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Pavelec and Hellebuyck both shining at worlds

Czech Republic goalie Ondrej Pavelec makes a save on Canada's Ryan O'Reilly. Pavelec, a Winnipeg Jet, has a goals-against average of 1.79 at the men's world hockey championships.


Czech Republic goalie Ondrej Pavelec makes a save on Canada's Ryan O'Reilly. Pavelec, a Winnipeg Jet, has a goals-against average of 1.79 at the men's world hockey championships.

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 15/5/2015 (1991 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Contributions from members of the Winnipeg Jets at the men's world hockey championship in the Czech Republic are limited in numbers but not in scope.

Only two members of the NHL organization went to the annual tournament, but the Jets will be represented in each semifinal game Saturday in Prague.

Jets No. 1 goalie Ondrej Pavelec is getting the job done in his home country, now a winner of five straight games for the Czechs, including Thursday's 5-3 quarter-final win against Finland.

And well-regarded Jets prospect Connor Hellebuyck, the busiest man in the AHL's regular season in 2014-15, is 6-0 at the tournament for Team USA, backstopping a 3-1 quarter-final win over Switzerland on Thursday.

The excellent performances ought to soothe some of the disappointment left by the Stanley Cup playoffs, in which the Jets were swept out of the first round by the Anaheim Ducks.

Pavelec and the Czechs will meet Canada in one semifinal Saturday, while the Americans and Hellebuyck will face Russia in the other.

The future in the crease in Winnipeg now has a positive vibe.

Pavelec is coming off his best season as a pro. It included some ups and downs, but after the 2014-15 campaign was finished, he had posted a 2.28 goals-against average and a .920 save percentage in 50 games.

In helping the Jets clinch a playoff spot in the final week of the NHL's regular season, Pavelec made three straight road starts and didn't allow a goal in regulation time.

The Czech Republic won five of its seven Group A games at the worlds to finish in third spot in the pool.

In Thursday's start to the single-knockout playoff round, Pavelec turned the Finns away after they had tied the game 3-3 early in the third period.

In the tournament, the 27-year-old netminder is 5-1 with a save percentage of .912 and a goals-against average of 1.79.

In a Thursday quarter-final game in Ostrava, Hellebuyck surrendered a first-period goal by Roman Josi but nothing more as the U.S. rallied in the second period to take the victory.

U.S. goalie Connor Hellebuyck snags a puck shot by Slovenia's Ziga Pance.


U.S. goalie Connor Hellebuyck snags a puck shot by Slovenia's Ziga Pance.

Hellebuyck has been rock-solid, now with six wins in a row, a goals against average of 1.32 and a save percentage of. 944.

The fifth-round draft pick of 2012 was the inaugural Mike Richter Award winner in U.S. college hockey in 2013-14 and turned pro last spring.

He went to the world championship tournament but didn't play for the U.S. a year ago, coming back to start his pro career with the AHL's St. John's IceCaps.

There, he exceeded all expectations with a mark of 28-22-5, playing the most minutes (3,332) in the league and earning a trip to the mid-season all-star game.

His goals-against average for the year was 2.58 and his save percentage .921.

A week ago, IceCaps (now Manitoba Moose) head coach Keith McCambridge raved about the 21-year-old's rookie pro year.

"He was a young goaltender and we didn't just put him on the ice and he knocked it out of the park," McCambridge said. "There was a bad goal a game going in on him. But the personality he has, nothing would rattle him.

"He'd let in one of those bad goals and he'd make a spectacular save after that. He gives you a chance to win every game.

"He exceeded all expectations, and speaking for myself, all of mine."

McCambridge said Hellebuyck's game and confidence went to a higher level after that all-star appearance.

Late in the season, McCambridge said he worried Hellebuyck was growing fatigued.

"I did worry at the end," the coach said. "We were playing him in the three-in-threes but he handled the work."

During the last week of the regular season, the Jets summoned Hellebuyck to Winnipeg to be their insurance for the playoffs. The rest, at least not playing for a couple of weeks, didn't hurt as he helped Team U.S.A. to a 6-1 mark to win Group B at the worlds, and now into the semifinals.

The gold-medal game goes Sunday.



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Updated on Friday, May 15, 2015 at 9:43 AM CDT: Replaces photo

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