Czech program wins international tournament for third time
From Feb. 8-19, 28 2010-born AAA youth hockey teams participated in the 63rd annual Quebec International Pee-Wee Hockey Tournament. After a stretch of highly competitive and fast-paced action, the Czech Knights were crowned champions on Sunday with a 4-2 defeat of the Detroit Red Wings.
It was not an easy road for the Knights despite being the odds-on favorite to win their third tournament in the past five years. After opening up play with back-to-back victories over Lions Lac St-Louis and Laval Patriotes, the real tests began. The Philadelphia Flyers were on deck, armed with one of the best offenses of any club. The Flyers had outscored opponents by a combined 8-1 in their two contests heading into the tilt.
Tobias Orechovsky was chosen as the netminder to help the Czechs get past the Flyers, which he did in perfect fashion. Orechovsky turned aside every shot he faced en route to a 3-0 victory. He was also in net for their next game against No. 9 U.S.-ranked Buffalo Jr. Sabres, who he also held to no goals in a 1-0 win. Two shutout performances that set the table for a semifinal appearance against the No. 8 World-Ranked Sun County Panthers.
After taking a 2-0 deficit into the first intermission, Lucas Andrejko decided to change the script in the second period. Shortly once things got underway, Andrejko nabbed his fourth point of the tournament by cutting into the Panthers’ lead. Just 43 seconds into the third period, the Knights’ second leading scorer Nicolas Novak would knot things up at two. Robin Mach would eventually net the winning goal to advance the Knights into the championship.
Awaiting them there were the Detroit Red Wings, a squad whose roster was made up of skaters from No. 5 Little Caesars. It was the Red Wings’ first appearance in the final game since 2015, and leading point getter A.J. Moore was focused on propelling his team to a championship. However, it just so happened that Andrejko decided to have his best game of the tournament in this meeting.
With Orechovsky manning the crease once more, the Czechs kicked off the scoring just over two minutes into the opening frame before Moore equalized things just 13 seconds after. The second period would be scoreless but set the stage for a dramatic goal-filled third period. The Knights opened up a 2-1 lead thanks to a pretty passing play between Novak and Andrejko that was put home by Andrej Adamkov. Andrejko would get in on the scoring with a goal just before the halfway point of the period for a 3-1 advantage. Detroit kept things close by cutting into the deficit to make things 3-2 before Andrejko struck again. The powerhouse forward added his second goal and third point of the afternoon to restore the two-goal advantage, which the Knights would not relinquish.
After being held scoreless in the team’s first matchup, Andrejko notched at least one point in the next five, compiling six goals and two assists. Not to be outdone, Orechovsky was perfect between the pipes, going 5-0-0 with two shutouts and a 1.60 goals-against average. Without stellar goaltending, winning the Pee-Wee Quebec is almost impossible. Orechovsky and fellow goalie Matyas Novotny went above and beyond for the Czechs.
Since 2018, the Knights have played in every AAA championship game, going 3-2-0. As a reminder, there was no 2021 tournament due to circumstances surrounding COVID-19. They also were runners up at the 2016 Pee-Wee Quebec.
Head coach Adam Jonak shared words of praise and thanks to his team and to the organizers of the games on his Instagram.