(Written for Eurohockey.com)
Their form has been inconsistent in the playoffs so far, but Pardubice have managed to qualify to the Extraliga final for the second time in three years, and will now have a chance to repeat the great team of 2010 and claim another Extraliga title. After their incredible 8-1 victory in Game 5, the momentum was with the third seed as they faced off in Liberec for Game 6, and despite the home side’s best efforts, it was Pardubice who would eventually run out 4-2 winners.
Liberec needed a fast start in order to get the fans rocking and to send a message to the Pardubice team that the Game 5 loss was simply a blip. However, just over three minutes in and it was Pardubice who were the ones sending a message. Liberec fluffed an easy clearance from their zone, and the puck ended up on the stick of Jan Stary at the blueline. He cut to the high slot, and despite almost losing the puck, managed to compose himself and fire a wristshot which Marek Pinc waved a glove at but failed to snag, giving Pardubice an early 1-0 lead.
|Pardubice qualify for the finals for the|
second time in three years
|Marek Pinc was pulled after the second period|
Key to their success was shutting down Petr Nedvěd, who only scored one goal in the series, as well as solid netminding from Martin Růžička, who had 27 saves in Game 6. Pardubice now advance to face a surging Kometa Brno side, who have already beaten the first and second seeds in the playoffs, and will be an extremely tough test for this Pardubice side. However, Pardubice won all four encounters in the regular season, and will go into the final as favourites, not only for their regular season advantage, but they also have a large number of players from the 2010 Championship side who know what it takes to win. All that we know for sure is that it will be a thrilling series.