One of the best under-18 tournaments in the world ended on Saturday, and now we recap what happened. This is a recapitulation of performances of the teams from Czech Republic and Slovakia in that tournament.
Czech Republic started the tournament with a 4-3 shootout win against Switzerland. In this game, all the best players performed to the best of their abilities. Everett Silvertips prospect Michal Gut led them to win. He had an assist and the winning goal in the shootout. He had a great tournament but I will get to that later in the article. Unfortunately, as the tournament went on and the quality of opposition rose, most of the team didn’t perform to the best of their abilities. That is a shame because they had some pretty good players on the team who could’ve performed better.
In games against Canada and Finland, they looked a lot out of place in the defensive zone. Defensive pairings were chaotic in breaking up chances. Positioning and getting pucks out of the defensive zone were also a struggle against those teams. Those mistakes were causing a lot of turnovers which led to goals for Finland and Canada. As for positives; I definitely see performances of their forward core as something that has been very good, especially in key moments during the tournament. They ended up being fifth which is good. But as said, there were many holes in their game which should be fixed during the year.
Who stood out? Forwards Michal Gut, Jan Myšák and Pavel Novák stood out to me during this tournament. I will get to each of them separately. Let’s start with the brightest spot of the Czech roster and that was Gut.
Michal Gut was the best player on the Czech roster. He is a relatively unknown 16-year-old forward prospect eligible for the 2020 NHL Draft. He has showed great combination of speed, skill and scoring. His goal-scoring ability was shown in important moments of the game. He is very versatile and has quite good defensive impact when he is on the ice. That is very important in this age group as players want to stand out in games against tougher opponents. He also showcased nice playmaking abilities in couple of nice chances. But those didn’t result in many goals scored so he ended the tournament with one assist. He is a speedy player. But during this tournament he not only used his speed, but he used it to gain advantages in every situation. He played top-line minutes, killed penalties, and played power play minutes throughout the tournament. He has showed a great combination of effective offensive drive and silky smooth hands. He has incredible speed as well. He will show these qualities in Everett Silvertips in WHL in this upcoming season as he is moving overseas.
Pavel Novák, who was Gut’s linemate throughout the tournament, was certainly a bright spo