After a big, 2-0 semifinal win for Canada over the Czech Republic, the Canadians will be duking it out for gold, as most have expected. Taylor Hall scored the first goal, which ended up being the game winner. In total, he’s second in scoring at the 2015 IIHF World Championship with seven goals and 12 points. The Edmonton Oilers forward shared a few thoughts with the media after the win.
Hockey’s Future: A 2-0 win against the Czech Republic. Was that game tougher than the first match against the Czechs in the preliminary round?
Taylor Hall: I think they have a lot of skill on their team and we had to make adjustments as the game wore on. We never want to sit back as much as we did in that third period. We unfortunately did that. We let them come at us a lot. But that’s the way a game can go and we did what we had to do to win.
HF: You know Jordan Eberle, but now you’re playing with Sidney Crosby. Can you describe the chemistry on your line?
TH: Well, when I scored tonight, those two had the assists and I just had an empty net to shove the puck into. It was a big goal for our team. It was important to silence the crowd. The linemates are highly skilled and can make plays at high speed. We’re really working well together.
As for Crosby, he’s so fast. His playing style forces linemates to create with him and play at that speed as well. We’re at a point now where we’re really starting to click.
HF: It’s now USA or Russia (ed. note It’s Russia). You haven’t seen either. Thoughts on that?
TH: We’re eight games into the final. We know what we will need to do as a team. Both of the opponents will be tough, likely our toughest of the tournament. We just have to play our game.
HF: You’re playing in your second World Championship. How does this one differ from the other one personally?
TH: In the previous tournament, we lost in the quarterfinals. For the guys who have been in this tournament before, Canada has been having a problem getting past the quarterfinals. So getting this far now and going for gold is very important to our country and for the men in the locker room. It’ll be real fun night tomorrow night.
For defenseman Michal Jordan, this tournament has all been part of his coming out party this season. After getting time on the blueline for the Carolina Hurricanes this past season, he’s taken on a very important role for the Czech defensive unit all tournament long, having contributed one goal, two points and a +2 rating.
Hockey’s Future: A very tough 2-0 loss to Team Canada tonight. The Czechs had to play the Canadians twice in this tournament. What are your thoughts on this game?
Michal Jordan: I think we had a good start. We had some good chances and the puck was bouncing a good bit around the net. We didn’t put it in. Then they scored the first goal and then the second one. Our disallowed goal kind of took the air out of our bags. If we get that goal, it might be a different game. In the third period, they played very tough in the neutral zone and it was tough to get anything going. When we did get chances, we unfortunately didn’t make use of them.
HF: You have a bronze medal to try and win tomorrow. How do you get ready for that in such a short period of time?
MJ: Well it’s disappointing that we won’t be playing for gold, but we definitely don’t want to leave empty-handed. We now have to regenerate, prepare, and make sure we grab it tomorrow in front of this crowd.
HF: How has this tournament been for you personally in your home country and in front of these crowds?
MJ: It’s special. The people have been very supportive at the rink and outside of the rink. This will all be a great memory, so hopefully we end on the right note.
HF: As for yourself, you just played half a season in the NHL and now you’re playing top four minutes at this tournament. Would you say this has been the best year of your young career?
MJ: I would definitely say so. It was a very good season for me. I got a chance to get into a lot of NHL games and I think I played well there. Obviously, I didn’t know if I’d make the team, but then ending up being the seventh defenseman and making my way up the totem pole has been real great for me.
HF: Have you talked to other players from Carolina at this tournament?
HF: And heading into next season, what feedback have you gotten from the Carolina organization?
MJ: Well, the feedback has been good, but we’ll see soon. There’ll be some meetings shortly after this tournament and we’ll take it from there.
Young teammate Dominik Simon has been one of the most refreshing participants in the tournament. The undrafted 20-year-old has been part of many Czech junior teams, having even been a key ingredient to beating Canada at the 2013 U20 World Junior Championship. This past season he broke through as a pro with HC Plzen, putting up 19 goals and 33 points in 56 games, making him one of the few members of the team to have spent the season in the Czech Republic. That he now has a goal and five assists at the World Championship is nothing more than an exclamation point on the type of player he’s become.
Hockey’s Future: A very tough 2-0 loss to Canada tonight. The Czechs had to play the Canadians twice in this tournament. What are your thoughts on this game?
Dominik Simon: Like you said, it was really tough. It was tough from the beginning. We came out the way we wanted. We created pressure and kept them on their heels, but as the game went on, they became better. They ended up scoring a couple of goals. Our goalie, Ondrej Pavelec, was outstanding, though, and probably also saved at least three goals against. At the end of the day, we just couldn’t score any goals.
HF: In less than 24 hours you’ll be playing for bronze right in front of your native hometown crowd. What are your thoughts on that?
DS: We have to quickly recover from this game, stop thinking about it, and clear our minds. We’ll have to plan quickly and then play the best we can.
HF: You’re one of the few players on this team that spent the season in the Czech Republic while most of your teammates were in the NHL or KHL. You’re also about the youngest on the team. What kind of a feeling is it for you to be part of this team right here in your home country, in front of this home crowd?
DS: It’s a very special and wonderful experience for me to be here. I sure didn’t expect to be here when the season began or even at the halfway mark. Now I’m here and trying to play my best and do whatever the team needs of me. I feel I can evaluate this as a big moment in my career and a great experience.
HF: What can you say about the way the Czech fans have supported you guys and this entire tournament?
DS: The audience is great. I really have to thank them, because they have been the best fans I have ever seen. This is the best atmosphere I have ever been in. So here’s saying thanks to all of them out there.
HF: You just played your best pro season to date. You scored 19 goals. What went well for you this winter?
DS: I was given a real shot at senior hockey. The club gave me a shot. I tried to improve in every game and on every shift. That trust and investment in my playing time played a big role in allowing me to develop as I have.
HF: You were an important player for the Czechs at the 2013 WJC in Malmö, where you played a big role in beating Team Canada. Do you have any thoughts about playing in North America one day?
DS: For sure. I’m one of those kids who has the dream of playing in the NHL one day. I will do anything necessary to get there.
HF: Do you ever talk to young Czech NHL players like Tomas Hertl and Michal Jordan about their experiences and what they’ve gone through?
DS: Yes, actually I’ve talked to them a lot about that. I’ve often asked how it’s going and what they are experiencing and what it’s like to be there.
HF: Well, do you know where you’ll be playing next fall?
DS: No, that is something I will divert my attention to after this tournament.
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