Sunday, 8 January 2012

Slavia thrash Kometa in ill-tempered affair

Slavia Praha reclaimed 12th place in the Extraliga table as they put in one of their best performances of the season to down Kometa Brno in a game littered with troubles, on and off the ice. Slavia, who have the worst home record in the league gained in confidence as the game went on, and they were aided by the conga to the penalty box by the Brno players, whose discipline during the game was non existent. A big crowd was expected at the o2, and a fair number of Kometa fans made the journey from Brno, although their teams frustrations boiled over into the stands, as a piece of plexi glass was broken by the Kometa fans, and unconfirmed rumours of violence outside of the arena resulted in a rather tense atmosphere around the rink.

Slavia celebrating in front of the Sešívaní
Photo: Pavel Vrtiška
Tomáš Pospíšil was the hero for Slavia, scoring two goals and assisting on another. Pospíšil, a Kometa asset who is back at Slavia on loan was a thorn in Brno's side all net, finishing after great work by Jan Alinč in the first period, before firing a one timer from the point high past Jiří Trvaj on the powerplay in the third. Slavia jumped out to a three goal load in the second period only for Kometa to peg them back and for the score to be 3-2 at the second intermission. This was after killing off a five minute powerplay for the second time in two games, as Jakub Svoboda was tossed from the game for a kneeing major, colliding knee on knee with Slavia forward Michal Vondrka. Leoš Čermák scored the first Brno goal, a goal which was reviewed for a good five minutes before the referee finally confirmed it was a goal, and Radek Dlouhy scored the second, leaving it all to play for in the third period. However, Slavia took the game away from Kometa in the third period, scoring three goals to take the three points. Tomáš Kůrka scored the fourth, a nifty breakaway move after he caught the defence flatfooted, and eight minutes later, Vladimír Růžička Jr. scored one of the strangest goals he'll ever score as he deflected the Brno defenceman's pass past Trvaj. Pospíšil's second goal capped the game off for Slavia, leaving the Sešívaní in joyous spirits as they head into a tough set of games. Slavia's first win in four games is welcome relief to head coach Vladimír Růžička Sr., who has started to come under pressure from disgruntled Slavia fans. His assistant, Jiří Čelanský speaking after the game said, "After a series of losses we played a decent game, and we are glad that we have for the first time this season, scored six goals at home." All in all it was a great game between two teams that could both be playing in the relegation playoffs come March, and the growing rivalry between Kometa and Slavia continues to intensify.

 Martin Růžička put in another solid performance
photo: Marian Ježowicz 
The night's televised game saw a short benched Pardubice continue to put pressure on Sparta by taking the three points at the Werk Arena against Třinec. The Steelers opened the scoring with a Lukáš Bolf powerplay goal, but Pardubice battled back in the third period, scoring three times in the final frame. Radovan Somik tied the game at one, and both teams went back and forth before Jan Stary fired a slapshot that was too hot for Peter Hamerlik to handle and trickled into the back of the net with just 86 seconds to go. Jan Kolář added an empty netter in the final thirty seconds to seal the points for Pardubice. Petr Koukal put in a captains performance assisting on the second and third goals, and Martin Růžička put in another good performance making 29 saves. If he keeps this form up then he certainly could be knocking on the door of the Czech Republic squad come World Championship time.

After their late autumn slump, Zlin put in a polished performance at home against Vitkovice to keep them in contention for a top six spot. They commanded the game against the Ostrava outfit, limiting them to just 21 shots, which young shot stopper Jakub Sedlaček stopped with relative ease, although he did get clattered for his troubles as Viktor Ujčík ran over the netminder in the third period, luckily not hurting either player. A shutout on home ice is just the confidence boost that the Moravian side needs going into the home stretch. Petr Leška, putting in another impressive season for the club he's spent almost all his career at, opened the scoring, pouncing on a juicy rebound from Roman Málek. This would be the solitary goal in the game until with just seven seconds left, big summer signing Petr Čajánek scored past Malek, finishing the play after a brilliant pass from Petr Holik, who put in another impressive display after being away with the Czech Republic Under-20's in Alberta.

Tomáš Vošvrda was the hero for Liberec as his 46 shot shutout cemented the White Tigers' hold on fifth place, and giving Jiří Kalous a major headache in regards to his starting goaltender. On the other hand, it was another loss for Litvinov, despite having captain Martin Ručinský back in the lineup. With this loss, Litvinov are slowly but surely being sucked into the relegation positions in the Extraliga table. The game was deadlocked at 0-0 until the 34th minute, when Lukáš Vantuch's weak shot from the left wing completely eluded Martin Volke, who had made a brilliant breakaway save just minutes before. It was a shocker of a goal to concede, and it seemed to take the wind out of Litvinov's sails. The final period was a bit of a non-affair, but Liberec got their insurance marker with a minute to go, as Milan Bartovič's low slapshot had too much mustard for Volke, finishing off the play after great play by Jaroslav Kudrna.

It was top against bottom at the Tesla Arena, and Sparta Praha took the three points away from the basement boys Mlada Boleslav. However, the league leaders didn't have the easy evening that many would have predicted, as Mlada put up a spirited display, only going down by 2-0. Sparta only had thirty shots on Michal Valent, who with this performance may have got the starters job off of Jaroslav Hübl. In fact, Mlada held Sparta until the 51st minute, when who else but Petr Ton broke through the Mlada defence at the blue line, and fired a wicked slapshot which beat Valent low on the stick side. Tomáš Pöpperle made 24 saves for his shutout, but don't be fooled by the low numbers, as Mlada had two clear breakaways, as well as a great 2 on 1 chance which Pöpperle denied, demonstrating his lightning lateral quickness. Sparta sealed the game with just over two minutes to go as Petr Tenkrát scored, with Ton and Angel Krstev assisting, the second assist of the night for the latter.

Karlovy Vary have been in good form as of late, but they didn't have enough to beat 4th placed HC Mountfield. In what was František Výborný's 700th game as a coach, Mountfield gave the coach something to celebrate as they took the three points with a 4-2 victory. The Budvar boys got goals from four different scorers as Lukáš Květoň, Jakub Langhammer, Peter Mikus and Pavel Kašpařík all lit the lamp. Karlovy Vary were always chasing the game after Květoň's fourth minute goal, and although Vaclav Skuhravy scored in the second to tie the game up, they just didn't have the legs for it. Jakub Kovář made 30 saves for the victory.

Plzeň were without star forward Tomáš Vlasák, but they sent a message to leaders Sparta, as they thrashed Kladno 7-2 on the road putting in a brilliant display. Jan Chabera was pulled for the second game in a row as Plzeň scored three goals on eight shots in the first ten minutes, with Michal Dvořák, Jan Kovář, and Vaclav Pletka finding the back of the net. Both Kovář and Radek Duda scored three points for Kladno, as they added a further two goals in each period to easily dispatch of the Knights, who are falling into the relegation race. Adam Svoboda only had 24 shots to deal with, stopping 22 in his sides win which leaves them three points behind Sparta with a game in hand.

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