Saturday, 7 January 2012

Kometa stun Mountfield as Slavia's woes continue

In the first full gameday since the turn of the year, Friday night saw six games of Extraliga action, with table toppers Sparta Praha defeating Oceláři Třinec in a penalty shootout thriller on Thursday at the Tesla Arena.

Sparta veteran Petr Ton scored the shootout winner for the Holešovice men, who will be disappointed that they didn't take all three points against a mid-table Třinec outfit, let alone after leading 4-1 at the second intermission. David Květoň scored two goals in the third period before Radek Bonk tied the game at 4-4 with just 33 seconds remaining, leaving the Sparta fans stunned. However, the league leaders managed to regroup and sent the Steelers packing with a solitary point.

 Tomáš Divíšek celebrating Kometa's third
Photo: Michal Eger 
In the TV game, Kometa Brno stunned title contenders České Budějovice with backup and pensioner Jiři Trvaj stopping all 32 shots the Budvar boys could muster. After a scoreless first period, former Slavia Praha forward Miroslav Holec opened the scoring, beating Jakub Kovář on his shortside. Six minutes later, Kometa doubled their advantage as they proved that winning faceoffs are key as Jozef Kováčik hammered home from the point. Renaissance man Tomáš Divíšek scored to make it 3-0, before Hynek Zohorna closed the scoring half way through the period, finishing off a divine piece of team play on a 3 on 1 break. Kometa made it difficult for themselves in the late going, as Jiří Vašíček was tossed early from the game with eight minutes to go for a brutal elbow on David Kuchejda, but České Budějovice failed to break Trvaj's shutout to the delight of the fans packed into the Kajot Arena. Speaking after the game, Kováčik, who had an assist on the final Brno goal praised the performance of team mate Roman Erat. "Too bad that they do not give three assists, as Roman Erat who orchestrated the event, would have certainly deserved it."

 Martin Heřman getting hauled down on a breakaway
photo: Milan Podpera 
In another clash with implications at both ends of the table, Plzeň comfortably dispatched of Litvínov 4-1 at home. 7940 packed into the ČEZ Aréna to witness Marty Straka's boys move to within three points of Sparta at the summit of the Extraliga. Adam Svoboda was faultless in the Plzeň, seemingly getting back to the form which made him a league winning starter in 2008, as he stopped all but one of the 33 shots Litvinov fired at him. It is certainly surprising that Plzeň were outshot by Litvinov, but Svoboda was up for the task. Martin Volke had a decent game for the away side, although he would want the first goal back as Jiří Marušák's point shot somehow squirted between him and the post and trickled into the goal. Plzeň started to pull away in the second as the hosts doubled their advantage with Martin Heřman scoring a penalty shot after being pulled down on a breakaway, finishing expertly with a backhand over Volke's shoulder, and then just 22 seconds later Jan Stránský scored after great work by Nicholas Johnson behind the goal to stretch Plzeň's advantage to three. Litvinov would finally get on the board, with a soft goal on Svoboda as a Martin  Jenáček wrist shot from the left wing eluded Svoboda's blocker, but it wouldn't have a major bearing on the game as the third petered out before Radek Duda scored an empty netter to finish off events.

Vitkovice strengthened their push for a top six finish, easily dispatching basement boys Mlada Boleslav at home. The Ostrava outfit relied on goals from four different scorers to take the game away from Mlada, whose inability to put together good defence and decent offence in a game continues to haunt them. Australian born junior Nathan Walker had two assists in the game, the first coming on the opening goal which was scored by Juraj Štefanka. In a game littered by penalties, both teams powerplays failed to shine, as no goals were scored on the man advantage. The goal of the game was the second Vitkovice goal which came in the second period, as Petr Pohl's dogged board work was rewarded with a goal, as he cut to the net from the left wing and beat Jaroslav Hübl. Vitkovice scored twice more in the third period, and Mlada eventually broke Roman Malek's shutout bid as Milan Mikulik got his own rebound to score. Viktor Ujčík was desperate to get himself on the Zlata Helma videos as his between-the-legs attempt on a breakaway almost eluded Hübl.

Pardubice showed that they are still title contenders, blowing away Kladno 3-1 in the first period to eventually take the game 5-2. Peter Jánský scored twice, and Jan Buchtele had two assists as Pardubice cemented third spot in the standings. Jan Chabera had a game to forget for Pardubice as he was yanked after conceding 4 goals on 13 shots, and Pardubice almost got on the board straight after as they hit the post just seconds after Cikanek started his relief bid. Pavel Patera got a goal back for Kladno before they had a goal ruled out for netminder interference at the end of the second period. However, Kladno couldn't build on the momentum and Petr Koukal scored in the third to make it 5-2.

Karlovy Vary finally leapfrogged Slavia for 12th place in the standings, as they continue their impressive form of late as they dispatched of Zlín 4-1 on home ice. Dusan Salficky had another great game for Karlovy Vary, making 31 saves. Zlin threatened early on but the first period finished scoreless, although the hosts lost Petr Gřegořek in the first period as he was tossed from the game, picking up two misconduct penalties for protesting after a shocker of a call by the referees. Travis Gawryletz and František Skladaný scored for Karlovy Vary in the second to make it 2-0, before another two goals in the third made it 4-0. Zlín got a late consolation through Martin Hamrlik in the final minute, but all it did was spoil Salficky's shutout.

Hatrick hero Petr  Nedvěd
photo: Jaroslav Appeltauer
"Every goal was for me and the team is important" were the words of hatrick hero Petr Nedvěd as slumping Liberec got back to winning ways, defeating Slavia Praha 4-1 on home ice. Nedvěd scored a goal in each period as Liberec got revenge for last years playoff defeat and took the game to a woeful Slavia side, who have now lost three straight. Nedvěd's first came two minutes in as he took the puck from his own zone, all the way into Slavia's zone unopposed, before firing a wrist shot that handcuffed Dominik Furch and scored the twine. It was undeserved but Slavia got the game level as Lukáš Krenželok beat Marek Pinc with a wicked wrister in the second minute of the second period, but that was all the joy that Slavia were going to get. It wasn't the worst of performances for the Prague outfit, as they mustered 36 shots on Pinc and hit the post in the third period, but the Liberec shotshopper had another brilliant game in his comeback season. Nedvěd gave Liberec the advantage mid way through the period, before scoring his hatrick with five minutes to go. A true captains performance from the former NHLer who like a fine wine seems to be getting better with age.

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