David Pastrnak setup three goals Wednesday night at the world junior hockey championship as the Czech Republic defeated Russia 4-1 in a must-win game.
The Bruins’ prospect now has a team-leading seven points (one goal and six assists) heading into Friday’s quarterfinals against Slovakia.
Pastrnak, the 25th overall pick at last June’s draft, appeared in five regular season games with Boston to start the season before being assigned to the Providence Bruins of the American Hockey League. The 18-year-old says his experience in the NHL is helping him even at the international level.
“It helps me a lot,” he said. “I played on the team with stars in the NHL so I picked up a lot of experience. I tried to learn as much as I can. (World juniors) is very different hockey than the NHL, but the experience has helped me a lot and I’m trying to get better every day.”
Entering Wednesday’s game Pastrnak said the team has been feeling pressure from the Czech Republic after being out-scored 10-4 in preliminary round losses to Sweden and Switzerland. The Czechs used overtime to edge the Danes 4-3 prior to Wednesday’s win which secured them a berth in the final four.
“We felt some pressure from back home,” said Pastrnak. “When you get to this situation, you feel you don’t play for yourself, you play for all of your country. All you want is to make your country proud of you. That’s what we said to each other, we have to play as one (unit) and do it for our country.”
A native of Havirov in the Czech Republic, Pastrnak had 10 goals and 27 points in 23 AHL games prior to joining the Under-20 team.
Pastrnak knows what to expect from the Slovaks on Friday.
“They are our neighbours so we have to get ready,” he said. “They beat us in a training game, but that doesn’t matter (now). It’s going to be about one game, the quarterfinals and we have to play our game.
“They’ve got a good power play, they play really simple hockey, but they skate well.”
The winner of the Czech and Slovakia quarterfinal will meet either Canada or Denmark in the semifinals on Sunday.