Every semifinal game is a battle. Now it time for all teams to be serious. It’s time to play
for the medals. This game will decide who will play for gold and who can eventually finish
without a medal. The Czech team realized that. They’ve had only about 20 hours after the
quarterfinal game to prepare for the semifinal game against Swedes, who sent the host Russians
to play for the fifth place best when they defeated them 3:2 in their quarterfinal game. Both
teams met in the first game of the tournament and the Czechs have won that tight defensive game
2:1 when Martin Erat scored the game winner with just three minutes left in the game. It was
obvious that this game won’t be different, it’ll be a serious playoff game with defense first.
The Czechs have great defensive corps and so do the Swedes. They’re led by Detroit Red Wings
draftee Nicklas Kronwall, who already played for the senior national team at the Pragobanka Cup.
Fowards are very good on the Swedish team, too, and the eyes of the NHL scouts would probably
focus on Fredrik Sjostrom, a highly touted 2001 prospect, who already scored twice during the
tournament. Both teams are equally good, have excellent goaltending provided by Tomas Duba
and Henrik Lundqvist, mobile defensemen and scoring forwards. In a game like that can every
detail decide. A very bad thing for the Czech team happened the night before this match when
three forwards, Ivan Rachunek, Marek Tomica and Ladislav Vlcek felt sick and the doctor sent
them back to bed because of a flu. But the Czechs are used to play on three lines so th Read more»
World Junior Championships
- Jamie Lundmark and team Canada won the Bronze medal today as they defeated Sweden 2-1 in overtime. Jamie Lundmark didn’t register a point or penalty for the Canadians. Raffi Torres, an Islanders prospect, got the game winning goal in overtime to give Canada their second straight Bronze medal. Canada also is the only team to win a medal in each tournament the past three years. Lundmark’s final stats are 7 points (4 goals, 3 assists) and 6 penalty minutes in 7 games. Here is where he finished among everyone in the tournament: 1st in scoring for Canada, tied for 7th in the tournament with his 7 points, tied for 6th in the tourney with 4 goals, 6th in the tourney with a 22.22 shooting percentage, tied for 12th with 3 assists and 1st in face off winning percentage with a 67.78 percentage. He will soon be heading back to Seattle to continue to lead them towards the WHL playoffs and keep racking up points at a rapid pace.
The Kings season has been a mystery. Poor goaltending, an unresolved Blake situation and home losses to the worst team in hockey have clouded what seemed to be a breakthrough season. Despite all of this, the Kings can see the future right now in the play of Steve Reinprecht, Lubomir Visnovsky and Eric Belanger.
Eric Belanger came out of nowhere to claim a roster spot and has adjusted his game to fit the NHL style of play. Belanger has always had tremendous skill. He has shown his playmaking ability when filling in for Josef Stumpel and the start of the season. But when Stumpie returned, Belanger was returned to Lowell. Injuries lead to his recall and his centering the fourth line, flanked by tough guys Stu Grimson and Ian Lapperierre. Belanger has shown some solid defensive play and the grit that Kings management thought he lacked. Granted, he gets alot more room on the ice because of his linemates, but Belanger has shown that he can adapt his game to whatever situation is needed. After being labeled a flop last season, Belanger’s development may move him into a second or third line center for years to come.
Steve Reinprecht has fooled this fan. Rhino has emerged as a second line center and is among the leaders in rookie scoring. I for one thought he would struggle this season, but his amazing hands and playmaking ability have lead to unexpected scoring chances. He has the ability to dig the puck out of the corners, make moves on a dime, and find the open skater. Rhino is solid on both sides of the ice and is a playmaking center that the Read more»
As winners of the Group A at the WJC the Czech team faced the fourth placed team of the Group
B, team of Switzerland. This was an advantage for the Czechs who avoided meeting Finland,
Russia or Canada in the quarterfinals. But this opponent can’t be taken easy. Many of the
fans would say, that Switzerland is no problem for the Czech team loaded by future NHL regulars,
but that is not the case. The Swiss guys are gritty players who play together for 4 years and
even if they have no potential superstar on their roster, they often cause trouble to the top
teams. This is what they showed during their games in the Group B, they managed to play a tie
game with the host Russians, 3:3, trailed Finland only by one goal, 2:3, won over Belarus
and only their last game was a clear loss, 4:8 to Canada. But every of their four goals was
scored on the powerplay and the first line plays some pretty good hockey. They’re well
organised, play good defensively and are waiting for the mistakes of the opponent.
The physically good Swiss guys can make every mistake of the opponent to their advantage,
that’s exactly what the Czech coaches have seen when they attended the game against Canada.
The coaches did everything that was possible to prepare the team for this game of high
importance. They even had a secret videotape with the practices of the Swiss team. That’s
something the Swiss coaches wouldn’t like to hear. So the Czechs were ready and went out
on the ice willing to show the others who is better.
At the beginning was everything going easy. Atlanta Read more»
On the last day of the 20th century, December 31st, 2000, the Czech squad had to face the
last opponent in the round robin system of the Group A. The Slovakian squad isn’t playing
really well at the WJC this year, but they might have regained their confidence with a 7:0
win over Kazakhstan. The Czechs were already sure winners of the group and they didn’t need to
play on full speed. So the coaches had to warn the team not to take this game easy because
a loss would damage the confidence before the quarterfinal match. The Czechs are running
high this time with a perfect 3-0-0 record and the Slovakian team wasn’t supposed to be of
any trouble. But they can always surprise and have their leading duo in Portland Winterhawks
forwards and Montreal Canadiens draft picks Marcel Hossa and Jozef Balej, who play along with
Kingston Frontenacs’ Tomas Skvaridlo on the first line. Skvaridlo was drafted by the Pittsburgh
Penguins in 1999 and he plays very solid at the WJC. The defense has its star in Rene Vydareny,
a Vancouver Canucks prospect, who had trouble with his former Slovakian team and wasn’t
permitted to play for the Canucks till late December. Rumors say that with a good performance at the WJC
he should see some ice time with the Canucks already this season, but he is heading for the
Kansas City Blades most likely. Two players of this Slovakian squad could hear their names
called in June – defenseman Tomas Slovak of Kosice is the top Slovakian prospect and he’ll be
drafted sure and goalie Peter Budaj, a Toronto St.Michael’s Majors player, who may be a late