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Do you hear me now?

Wednesday, 01.04.2012 / 4:54 PM
By Bill Roose - Managing Editor | DetroitRedWings.com / The Wheel Deal
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The Wheel Deal
Do you hear me now?

Czech goalie, and Red Wings prospect, Petr Mrazek, celebrated a 5-2 upset win over Team USA. Mrazek was drafted by the Wings in the fifth-round in 2010. (Photo by Getty Images)
Few people, other than those in the Red Wings’ amateur scouting department, had heard of Petr Mrazek prior to last Friday’s USA-Czech Republic game in the World Junior Championships in Alberta, Canada.

However, after the 19-year-old turned aside 52 shots in a 5-2 upset win over the Americans, it’s probably safe to say that Mrazek’s name won’t be forgotten anytime soon.

One Canadian scribe even wrote that Mrazek’s outing against Team USA, “will go down as one of the greatest goalie performances ever witnessed in this tournament. … Mrazek’s spectacular saves and colorful celebrations have won over a lot of fans here in Edmonton over the last week.”

With the 141st pick in the 2010 NHL draft, the Wings selected the 6-foot-1 goalie, now in his third and final Ontario Hockey League season with the Ottawa 67’s. He turn pro next fall with the Wings’ minor-league affiliate in Grand Rapids next season.

But for now, whether or not Mrazek is the Wings’ heir apparent between the pipes, time will only tell. Yet for him to perform as miraculously as he did – and on such a big international stage – is quite impressive.

Prior to Thursday night’s consolation game against Slovakia, Mrazek had posted a 2-3 record with a 2.59 goals-against average, a .926 save percentage and a shutout victory over Denmark.

Mrazek has been so good that even in defeat the Czech goalie has earned Best Player of the Game recognition in losses to Canada (5-0) and Russia (2-1).

Besides Mrazek, the Wings have four other drafted prospects playing in the tournament, including Finland’s Teemu Pulkkinen and Slovakia’s Tomas Jurco. Both forwards are at the top of the tournament scoring list with Pulkkinen compiling six goals and four assists and Jurco collecting a goal and seven assists.

Jurco’s Slovakian teammate, Marek Tvrdon, has three goals and an assist in the tourney, while Swedish defenseman Mattias Backman has three assists and is a plus-5. Jurco, Tvrdon and Backman were all drafted by the Wings last summer in St. Paul, Minn.

After Mrazek’s performance last Friday, Joe McDonnell, the Wings’ director of amateur scouting, was elated, telling the Edmonton Journal, “When you have guys playing in the tournament, you hope that they show well and (Mrazek) was outstanding today. Actually, he was great every game he’s played in so far.”

Through 29 games with Ottawa, Mrazek is 16-7-4 with a 3.01 GAA and .909 save percentage.

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