Photo: Pavel Mazac/CIHA
Capitals’ first-round pick Jakub Vrana scored two goals and one assist in five games at the World Junior Championship before his Czech Republic fell to Slovakia 0-3, failing to make the semifinals for the tenth straight tournament.
The Czechs made the quarterfinals with a surprising 4-1 win over Russia in the last game of the preliminary round, arguably the only positive game for the Czechs in an otherwise disappointing group stage that included losses to Switzerland and Sweden as well an overtime win over Denmark.
Vrana seemed to try to do everything himself too often, which led to a lot of turnovers as defensemen throughout the tournament swarmed the Czech leaders as they entered the zone. On the bright side, unlike other Czech players, Vrana didn’t hesitate to shoot the puck, finishing the tournament with team-high 23 shots on goal.
GIF via @myregularface
Both of Vrana’s goals came in their first game of the tournament, a 2-5 loss against Team Sweden. For his first goal of the tournament, Vrana intercepted an errant pass by Flyers prospect Robert Hagg and confidently capitalized on the breakaway. That goal changed the momentum of the game in a big way as the Czechs got within one after trailing 0-2.
Just seven minutes later, Vrana tied the game. He snuck behind the D after the aggressive forecheck by the Czechs kept the puck in the zone and pounced on a pass to the front of the net.
Vrana assisted on Ondrej Kase’s empty net goal that ensured their win over Russia that allowed them to avoid relegation stage and make the quarterfinals.
Another Caps prospect on the Czech team, Vitek Vanecek, had an even more disappointing World Juniors. After coming into the tournament as the starting goalie, he lost his job to Miroslav Svoboda after three games, posting an .829 save percentage.
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