International Ice Hockey Federation

Czechs win 4-1, Swiss out

Czechs win 4-1, Swiss out

Czechs play inspired hockey to beat Russia, advance

Published 31.12.2014 20:32 GMT-5 | Author Andrew Podnieks
Czechs win 4-1, Swiss out
TORONTO, CANADA - DECEMBER 31: Czech Republic players celebrating after a 4-1 preliminary round win over Russia at the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship. (Photo by Andre Ringuette/HHOF-IIHF Images)
Regulation or relegation? That was the question facing the Czechs this evening at the Air Canada Centre.

Defeat the Russians in regulation and advance to the quarter-finals, or win in extra time or lose any which way and be forced to suffer the ignominy of playing a best-of-three in the Relegation Round.

For Russia, it was a meaningless game in the standings in that they had qualified for the playoffs, but they lost a chance to play perhaps a weaker seeded team in the quarter-finals.

"We know how they play," Patrik Zdrahal said. "If you play them well in the neutral zone, they can't enter our zone easily and they start to take the puck individually. We wanted them to do that. We were under control the whole game."

Thanks to two goals from Zdrahal and three assists from David Pastrnak, the underdog Czechs beat an uninspired Russian team, 4-1, and made it through, eliminating the Swiss in the process. Russia managed only 17 shots at Miroslav Svoboda in the Czech goal.

"It was awesome the way we played," an elated Zdrahal said after. "David Pastrnak made two great passes to me. I'm lucky that I can play with him. We have good chemistry together."

A quiet and uninspired first period produced only one goal, that coming at 11:05 by the more desperate Czechs. Pastrnak made a great play behind the Russian net to get the puck, and he rolled a perfect pass in the slot to Zdrahal. Zdrahal wasted no time in ripping a shot to the far corner for a 1-0 Czech lead.

"Scoring the first goal was very important for us," Pastrnak said. "It gave us confidence for the rest of the game."

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The Czechs went up by a pair early in the second on a similar shot. Pavel Zacha got the puck in front and rifled a shot to the top corner, over Igor Shestyorkin’s shoulder, for a 2-0 lead. It was clear they were the more motivated team, but momentum started to change midway through the period.

First, Jan Scotka tripped Ivan Barbashyov on a clear break, resulting in a penalty shot. Svoboda, however, denied him with a nice right-pad save on the ensuing shot.

But the Russians got on the scoreboard a few minutes later on the game’s first power play. David Kampf fanned on a clearing attempt just inside his blue line resulting in a rare two-on-the-goalie with Vyacheslav Leshenko and Barbashyov. The two moved the puck back and forth perfectly, Barbashyov finishing the play at 15:44 to make it a 2-1 game.

Zdrahal made it 3-1 at 2:54 of the third on a beautiful play. He took a long pass up the middle from Pastrnak and flew in alone on goal, snapping a shot under the blocker of Shestyorkin to complete the pretty play.

"I was thinking to shoot the whole time because the goalie was back in his net," Pastrnak noted. "I was lucky that I scored."

Ondrej Kase scored an empty netter with exactly 47 seconds remaining to close out the scoring.

The Czechs will now face Slovakia in a neighbouring quarter-final clash while Russia will be seeded against Team USA.


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