Czech Republic vs. Sweden WJC game recap

By Robert Neuhauser
The young Czechs opened their schedule at the WJC on Tuesday, December, 26th with
the game against Sweden. The event took place in front of 1500 spectators at the CSKA Arena
in Moscow at 4:30 p.m. (Russian time). The Swedes presented much less hyped squad than last
year when their roster included the likes of Daniel and Henrik Sedin or Henrik Zetterberg, all
of whom are expected to be future NHL stars. But don’t judge the Swedes wrong, their players
have loads of talent and also this year’s team has NHL prospects on the roster, for example
Henrik Lundqvist, NY Rangers goaltending prospect, Lars Jonsson future Boston Bruins rearguard
and a lot of prospects at forward – Jonas Andersson and Daniel Widing (both Nashville), Jari Tolsa
and Per Backer (both Detroit), Jonas Nordqvist of Chicago or Tim Eriksson, a Los Angeles Kings
talent. Two huge talents contains also the Swedish roster, Boston Bruin Martin Samuelsson and a
2001 highly touted prospect Fredrik Sjostrom. So it’s for sure that the Swedes aren’t weak – they
are never weak at the WJC. And this team was the first opponent of the Czechs on their way to
defend the championship title.

As goalie Tomas Duba stated in an interview, the whole team was nervous before the puck dropped.
But after this happened, there was no sign of nervousness. The young Czechs played great defensively
and it was clear that this game won’t be a high-scoring contest. The Czechs were faster, more
aggresive and created some scoring chances. Tomas Duba in the net wasn’t very busy during
the first period. Henrik Lundqvist in net for Sweden had to display some saves, but the game was
a 0:0 tie after the first 20 minutes. The Czechs wanted to change it in the second period. Radim
Vrbata went on a breakaway but failed to deke Lundqvist, who still held the chances of the
Swedish squad. Then first line center and an Avalanche prospect Vaclav Nedorost tried his accurate
shot, but this time it hit only the bar. The first line worked well together since the first minute,
Vaclav Nedorost created nice scoring opportunities for Pavel Brendl, however Brendl was held
scoreless. Zdenek Blatny played the role of the power forward while Rostislav Klesla paired
with Libor Ustrnul created the top defensive pair. All defensive pairs on both sides played well
and it looked like the second period will be another 0:0 tie. But the Czech first line was against.
Only seconds remained when there was a faceoff in the Swedish zone. Zdenek Blatny told Vaclav
Nedorost that they’ll try to change the roles this time and so Blatny took the draw. He won it
for Rostislav Klesla, who fired a slap shot on Lundqvist. The goalie turned it off – but there was
Zdenek Blatny standing in front of the net, who returned the puck behind Henrik Lundqvist’s back.
A 1:0 lead for the Czechs with 2 second remaining in the second period!

In the third period the Swedes were forced to play more offenisvely and more aggresive, but it was
the Czech first line who had scoring chances. Pavel Brendl had a breakaway even on a shorthanded
situation, but Henrik Lundqvist was the hero. But the old hockey saying “You fail to score – the
opponent won’t” was once again true. After a mistake of the defense Chicago Blackhawks prospect
Mattias Wennerberg created a 2 on 1 situation and fed Bjorn Melin with a pass, which Melin used to
tie the game at 1. There were 5 minutes left in the game.

The third line pressed on the Swedes. Captain Michal Sivek passed the puck to Martin Erat, who went
behind the net, the American referee Smith signalized a penalty for team Sweden, but suddenly there
was Martin Erat standing in front of the Swedish net with the puck on his stick – 2:1! Just 62 seconds
after Bjorn Melin tied the game…

After this the Czechs has a powerplay, but the goal in which they all hoped didn’t come. The opposite,
the Czechs received second bench penalty for too many men in the game with just 32 seconds left!
The hell began – the Swedish powerplay. But there was too little time left – and Tomas Duba, who had
24 saves in the win could celebrate with his teammates! The first two points were there and a good
start is very important for the confidence of the team. The win was a deserved one, it came after
a good defensive play with some nice plays displayed, the Czechs scored simply one more goal than
the Swedes…

Scoring summary

Czech Republic - Sweden 2:1 (0:0, 1:0, 1:1)

First period  - No scoring
Second period - 40. Zdenek Blatny (Rostislav Klesla) 1:0
Third period  - 55. Bjorn Melin (Mattias Wennerberg) 1:1
                57. Martin Erat (Michal Sivek) 2:1 PP

Powerplays: Czech Republic 1/5
            Sweden 0/7

Individual player scoring

                         Goals  Assists  Points
Rostislav Klesla           0       1       1
Libor Ustrnul              0       0       0
Jakub Cutta                0       0       0
David Nosek                0       0       0
David Pojkar               0       0       0
Jan Vytisk                 0       0       0
Pavel Brendl               0       0       0
Vaclav Nedorost            0       0       0
Zdenek Blatny              1       0       1
Ladislav Vlcek             0       0       0
Tomas Plekanec             0       0       0
Radim Vrbata               0       0       0
Marek Tomica               0       0       0
Michal Sivek               0       1       1
Martin Erat                1       0       1
Tomas Duba                 0       0       0

Team scoring leaders
                         Goals  Assists  Points
Zdenek Blatny              1       0       1
Martin Erat                1       0       1
Rostislav Klesla           0       1       1
Michal Sivek               0       1       1
         Other players scoreless