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Big Red Machine steamrolls Czechs ; Schenn's five points power Team Canada

Backed by its full-throated, thunderstick-banging supporters, Team Canada is making plenty of noise in this IIHF World Junior Championship.

Canada dominated its second straight opponent, defeating the Czech Republic, 7-2, Tuesday before an almost-capacity HSBC Arena crowd of red-clad fans.

Not even the ejection of one of its top players, Sabres draftee Zack Kassian, was enough to slow the Big Red Machine.

Brayden Schenn had a goal and four assists, and Ryan Ellis had four points (one goal, three assists) as Canada moved to 2-0 in the tournament, with both wins coming in convincing fashion.

Canada fell behind, 1-0, in the game's first minute when Antonin Honejsek scored unassisted at the 49-second mark. Honejsek took over after a turnover in the neutral zone by Ellis and skated to the left of defenseman Dylan Olsen. Honejsek's shot caught the right post behind Team Canada goalie Olivier Roy and went in.

No worries.

Schenn drew Canada even when he scored on the power play with 5:17 left in the first period. Ryan Johansen carried the puck into the Czech zone with a head of steam, drawing defenseman Martin Planek to him. That left Schenn open on the left and he took Johansen's pass and blasted his shot high past Czech goalie Filip Novotny.

It was the first of four power-play goals for Canada.

"We got into penalty trouble and it went south very quickly after that," Czech assistant coach Jiri Fischer said.

Schenn, the fifth overall pick by the Los Angeles Kings in 2009, set up Canada's go-ahead goal later in the first period, finding Jaden Schwartz with a nice cross-ice pass just 12 seconds into a power play.

Schenn, who plays for Brandon of the Western Hockey League, is Team Canada's lone returnee among forwards. He played eight games this year with the Kings and seven more with Manchester of the AHL before heading back to juniors.

"Brayden Schenn was dominant," Team Canada coach Dave Cameron said.

Kassian was ejected with 14:07 to play in the second period after hitting Czech defenseman Petr Senkerik near center ice.

The ensuing five-minute power play, however, swung the game squarely to Canada. After a good save by Roy on Honejsek, Louis LeBlanc and Schenn went the other way on a two-on-one rush. LeBlanc took Schenn's pass and beat Novotny to the far post for a 3-1 lead.

"I had four assists tonight, but if they [his teammates] don't put the puck in I don't get assists there. Without them, I wouldn't have five points," said Schenn, whose older brother, Luke, plays for the NHL's Toronto Maple Leafs.

Canada, which had seven players score goals, went ahead 4-1 with 6:51 left in the second. On a delayed penalty, Ellis got open in the slot and took another perfect pass from Schenn. His low shot beat Novotny five-hole and the rout was on.

"I've always thought that the skill was there. I think the size and blue-collar, lunch-bucket [profile] came from the media," Cameron said. " We may not have anybody who is a prolific scorer but if you check their stats, whatever league they're from, and on their teams, they're the leading scorers."

Canada made it 5-1 with 16 seconds left in the second when Cody Eakin took a nice touch pass from Casey Cizikas and beat Novotny up high from in close.

The game got even more physical in the third when Czech forward Martin Frk speared Canada's Erik Gudbranson in the groin, earning a five-minute major penalty that led to his ejection.

Two more Czech penalties, including one to Novotny, gave Canada a lengthy five-on-three power play, and Tyson Barrie scored with Schenn again assisting. Just 23 seconds later, Jared Cowan made it 7-1 on a slap shot with 10:01 left to play.

Jakub Jerabek scored on a slap shot from the point with less than 5 minutes to play for the Czechs, but by that time Canada's attention had shifted to today's game with Norway.

Canada, which beat Russia, 6-3, on Sunday, is tied with Sweden atop group B with six points.

e-mail: jskurski@buffnews.com

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