In the first quarterfinal played in the Ralph Engelstad Arena on January
1, the Czech Republic beat Finland 3-0 in a game where no significant emotion
After an exceptional performance of goaltender Vladislav Koutsky against
the Americans, the Czech coach came back with Marek Schwarz for this
quarterfinal. On the other side, Tuuka Rask replaced Joonas Hallikainen who had
started against Canada.
The Czechs dominate
The first period didn’t offer great hockey to the fans. The Finns played
a defensive game. While killing a penalty, Rostislav Olesz blocked a
shot and then missed a couple of shifts.
Both teams played a positional game. This period ended with a 14-6 shots
lead for Czech Republic. Petr Vrana and Olesz were the best for the
Czechs. Rask was the only one who deserved a mention on his side in the first.
The second period was not much different. The Finns were not really
trying to push the offensive.
At 16:57, the only New Jersey prospect at the World Junior Championships
Petr Vrana scored on a power play, on a shot that Rask didn’t see. Ladislav
Smid assisted on the play.
When the second period was over, the Czechs had 30 shots on goal
compared to a mere 7 for the Finns — only one shot during that period versus
16 for the Czechs.
Rask continued his very good play and both 2006 NHL eligible Michael
Frolik and Jesse Joenssu were not very visible so far.
A shorthanded goal for Olesz
Olesz scored an unassisted shorthanded goal on a wrist shot at 3:35 of
the second period. Rask, who had kept his team in the game so far, was weak on
This goal awakened the Finns and they began to work harder. With more
than 14 minutes played in the third, the Czech had only one shot on Rask, the
goal of Olesz, while the Finns had eight.
The best moment for the Finns so far was when Arsi Piispanen was
left alone with Schwarz, but his efforts to put the puck behind the goalie were
In the 17th minute of the third, both teams were a man down.
Down by two, the Finn coach didn’t pull his goalie for an extra forward.
At 17:58, while the teams were still playing four-on-four, Roman
Cervenka closed the game, scoring on a slap shot from a wide angle. This was
only the third shot on goal for the Czechs in this final period. Rask could
have stopped that shot. Milan Hluchy assisted.
Rostislav Smid and Tuukka Rask were named the
players of the game.
Rask recognized that he could
have stopped the two shots that turned out to be goals. "The shot for the
second Czech goal hit my shoulder and the third went through me. These things
do happen," he said.
"Next year, we will be
back. There are ten guys on this team who will be there and many 1987s are very
good. We have a good future ahead," added Rask.
Joesse Joenssu said that it
was not a good game for the Finns. "The first period was good, the second
awful and the third was okay," he shrugged.
"I don’t know why we
were so flat, we felt that we have to protect our own net and play
safely," added the 17-year-old Finn.
The author of the first Czech
goal and team captain Vrana was proud of the team’s effort. "It was a good
game for us," he commented.
Vrana said that after the
loss against Russia, it was good for the Czechs to beat the U.S., especially
because the latter were playing at home. "It helped us to build our
confidence," stated Vrana.
He also commented the next
match against Canada, "We are going to play as hard as we can tomorrow, we
can beat every team in this tournament."
On the game, Schwarz said
that it was a crazy one for him. "After two periods, I had just received
seven shots, it was hard for me because I can lose my concentration in those
moments. I don’t like this kind of situation," he observed.
"It was a kind of
struggle to see who was to get the first goal," explained Olesz.
Richard is the author of La Serie du siecle, Septembre 1972, a book about the
Summit Series published in 2002.
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