Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Mrazova leads Czech Republic to 6-3 victory with three point performance

A hard skating match with great determination was the theme of this exhibition match at the CIH Arena in Rockland, Ontario. After a visceral 10-1 loss to Finland on March 29 in Smiths Falls, Ontario, the Czech Republic was hoping for a better result versus the Ottawa Gee Gees.

Cassie Seguin, an alumnus with the Canadian Under-18 team was the starting goaltender for the Gee Gees. During the first period, she was a solid presence between the pipes as the Gee Gees were outshot. Denisa Krizova of the Czech Republic was the first player to test Seguin as she released a powerful shot.

Following Krizova, Lucie Povova (who plays at the NCAA level with the Northeastern Huskies) shot in heavy traffic but Seguin was prepared. Klara Chmelova, who once attended the CIH Academy in Rockland, weaved her way through traffic but Seguin stoned her as well.

Eventually, Seguin would get some offensive support as Maude Laramee (a 2013 CIS All-Rookie selection), buried the puck past Katerina Becevova for the 1-0 lead. Laramee would add to her own cause as she scored again. After nearly tripping near centre ice, Laramee kept her composure while earning her second score of the contest.

Despite the 2-0 setback, the Czechs showed no signs of quit. With only 9.7 seconds left, Denisa Krizova got on the score sheet as she reduced the Gee Gees lead in half.

Heading into the second stanza, the Czechs built on the momentum of their late first period goal. Katerina Mrazova led the offensive charge as she scored at the 3:25 mark to tie the score.

After the first 11 minutes of the period, the Gee Gees offense was stifled by a stingy Czech defense. The number of shots was 13-1 in favour of the Czechs. Shortly afterwards, Caitlin Fowler would stand between the pipes for the Gee Gees.

The Czechs would continue their relentless attack on offense. Mrazova would lead the charge again as she scored another goal. After the goal, the Czechs enjoyed a 16-3 advantage in shots. At the 15:37 mark of the second, Krizova added to the Czech lead with an unassisted tally.   

Despite a valiant performance by the Gee Gees, the offense struggled. Near the end, the Gee Gees thought they had scored. With a crowded crease, the goal was disallowed.

While the Gee Gees faced a two goal deficit, there was no sign of quit. Fowler was courageous in net as she tried to keep the Gee Gees competitive. With 16:46 left in the frame, Gee Gees captain Fannie Desforges (the 2012 Red Bull Crashed Ice champion) scored a goal to make the score 4-3.

With a penalty to Katerina Flachsova, the Gee Gees were hoping to tie the score. With Laramee on the ice, she was hoping to score the hat trick. Despite their best efforts, Becevova kept the Gee Gees off the score sheet.

As time was ticking, the Czech defense was able to contain the Gee Gees. With 7:44 remaining, Chmelova would score the fifth goal of the contest as the Czech Republic gained momentum. Mrazova was credited with the assist, providing her with her third point of the contest.

The final goal of the contest would also be scored by the Czech Republic as Povova’s persistence throughout the game paid off with a goal at the 16:02 mark. While the Gee Gees tried to mount a comeback, it was not meant to be. Becevova managed to keep the opposition off the score sheet as the squad enters the Women’s Worlds with confidence.

Katerina Mrazova, the first European to win the Clarkson Cup was the contest’s leading scorer with three points. “I think we improved with every period. Scoring two goals was very good for my confidence. It is good to prepare for the tournament.”

Having also scored for the Czech Republic, Lucie Povova (who competes for the Northeastern Huskies in the NCAA) added, “In this game, we took time with the puck and tried to make plays.”

Having scored the first two goals of the contest, Maude Laramee of the Gee Gees remarked, “It was fun to score two goals. My team helped me a lot. Playing against an international team showed what it takes. It was a good experience and showed where I can improve and where my strengths are.”

With school exams, preparation for the international friendly with the Czech Republic was difficult, “It was tough as this is the school exam period. Trying to get everyone at practice at the same time was difficult to manage. Some players committed to go back home for Easter. This was a good experience. We had fun with it and I am proud to be part of a great team,” stated Yanick Evola, Gee Gees head coach.

Former Red Bull Crashed Ice world champion Fannie Desforges was playing in her final game for the Gee Gees. As the team captain, the opportunity to finish her career against an international team was a great point of pride.

“Going out against an international opponent was a great experience. To be able to play against an international team, I was very grateful for the opportunity.” The experience was enriched by being able to score a goal. “It was an awesome way to finish the year.”

Having played with the Canadian Under-18 squad in years past, Gee Gees backstop Cassie Seguin enjoyed competing against the Czechs, “For sure it brought back great memories of being on the U18 squad. I love playing international hockey. I always knew it was a good game and this makes the experience even better.”

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