Thursday, 5 January 2012

Czechs down Slovakia to finish fifth.

In a game that had more implications for next year, the Czech Republic finished their junior campaign for 2011/12 on a high by defeating their next door neighbours by a score of 5-2. Whilst on the surface, there was very little to play for, it was a game that both teams would have wanted to win, as the victor would be seeded with Latvia and Switzerland in their group, rather than the U.S.A, making progress to the quarter finals that much easier next time around. The Slovaks were always facing an uphill task, which was made all the more difficult when top scorer and Detroit Red Wings second round draft pick Tomáš Jurčo, was ruled out of the game following a knock he picked up in the quarter final against Finland.

Petr Mrázek (#2) put in another stellar
night's work in the Czech goal
Photo: Majo Srnik
Slovakia had a woeful start to the first period, which head coach Ernest Bokroš claimed was their worst period in the tournament, clearly missing the spark that Jurčo gave the team. 1994 born Marko Daňo filled the void on the top line, but he struggled to get into the game in the early going. Five minutes in the shots were already 7-0, with the Slovaks forming a queue to be the next one to sit in the penalty box. Eventually the Czechs were going to make their chances count, and Radek Faksa fired a bullet over Juraj Šimboch's shoulder. The Czechs would score twice more in the first period, with Zlín forward Petr Holík and Vojtěch Mozík getting on the board, with Mozík's goal coming on a two minute 5 on 3 PP for the Czechs.

The teams traded a goal apiece in the second period, with the Slovaks making it a two goal deficit mid way through the period. After killing off yet another penalty, Miloš Bubela finally got the Slovaks on the board, finishing off after good work by Martin Ďaloga. However, any momentum that Slovakia gained from the goal was quickly wiped out as Dominik Uher reestablished the Czechs three goal advantage just over two minutes later.

The Czechs set the tone in the first period, but allowed
Slovakia back into it in the third
Photo: Majo Srnik
The Czechs seemed to take their foot off the gas in the third, and it showed as Slovakia started to get back into the game, outshooting their opponents 17-11 in the final frame, but it wouldn't be enough for them to grab fifth place. With Marek Tvrdon in the box the Czechs scored their fifth and final goal of the night, as Tomáš Filippi fired past Šimboch, and five minutes later the Slovaks closed out the scoring, with Matúš Chovan scoring his fifth goal of the tournament, a team high.

After the game, Ernest Bokroš praised his team highly. Talking to, he cited his teams lack of individual talent, but commended how the team came together, especially under the guidance of captain Tomáš Matoušek.  Bokroš has a right to be pleased with his teams performances, as they reached the quarter finals for the first time since the great 2009 team featuring the likes of Tomáš Tatar, Richard Pánik and the star of the show Jaroslav Janus, advanced to the semi finals before falling to Sweden. Former Detroit Red Wings defenceman Jiří Fischer, assistant coach for the Czech Republic once again praised Petr Mrázek's performance in goal, especially when Slovakia were pressing in the final period.

"If someone had said before the tournament that we would finish fifth, I would take that without a doubt"

Both teams can be pleased with their showing
at this year's World Juniors
Photo: Majo Srnik
These were the words of head Czech head coach Miroslav Přerost following the game (source), and he has a right to be positive. The Czechs may still be reeling from their heartbreaking loss to Russia, but after playing in the relegation playoffs last year, a fifth placed finish will certainly get the momentum rolling for next year, where they should be with star prospect Martin Frk, who pulled out of the tournament whilst recovering from concussion.

Martin Gernát of Slovakia, a draft pick of the Edmonton Oilers had the same opinion as Přerost for his teams sixth placed finish.

"Sixth place is positive for Slovak hockey."

"After three years out, we played in the quarter finals, which is good."

Gernát is one of the few Slovak players eligible to return to play in 2013 in Ufa, and Slovak will need every ounce of his experience if they are to stay out of the relegation playoffs, where they are guaranteed a tough group featuring two of the semi finalists, as well as the U.S.A, whilst the Czechs will be hoping to go one step further and reach the semi finals for the first time since 2005.

No comments:

Post a Comment