Czech Republic vs. USA WJC game recap

By Robert Neuhauser
Before the teams went out on the ice, it was clear that this game will influent the final
standings of the Group A. The winner of this game will be the winner of the group and will
meet the fourth best team of the Group B in the quarterfinals and so has a better chance to
qualify for the semifinals. All players and coaches were aware of this fact. Jaroslav Holik
told the Czech guys to play defensively responsible and not to take bad penalties just like in
the previous two games. The US guys know how to play powerplay and too many minutes with a man
in the penalty box cost strength, which is needed in the last minutes. The US squad is maybe
the hardest opponent the Czechs have to face in the group and they had to prepare for this game
with a video session. The US goalie is one of the biggest prospects in all of hockey, Rick
DiPietro, first man taken overall at the 2000 NHL draft, the defense boasts first rounders
Paul Martin and Ron Hainsey the front line the likes of Jeff Taffe, Brett Nowak, Andy Hilbert,
Kris Vernarsky, Damian Surma or Jon DiSalvatore. Along with 2001 top prospects Tim Gleason and
Mike Komisarek at defense and David Steckel with R.J. Umberger at offense.

Head coach Jaroslav Holik started the game with using 3 lines, the fourth line which played well
against Kazakhstan was benched again. The USA squad played its typical aggressive, hard, in-your-
face style of hockey with great forechecking, but the Czechs knew what was waiting for them.
And they made the best thing possible, Pavel Brendl grabbed the puck, avoided the hit and passed
it to Vaclav Nedorost, who shot it right behind DiPietro – 1:0. Vaclav Nedorost, the 2000 WJC
champion, scored his first goal at the WJC in the 10th game he played at the WJC.

That was in the sixth minute. After that the Americans pressed again, but the defense played well
in front of Tomas Duba. The game was tied when was nearly the first half of the game over,
San Jose Sharks draft pick Jon DiSalvatore tied it with assists from defensemen Freddy Meyer
and Montreal Canadiens’ talent Ron Hainsey. Russian referee Karabanov has put the USA squad in
a bad situation with a two-man advantage for the Czechs with nearly three minutes left in the
period. The Czechs have the last two minutes of the second period very strong at this year’s
WJC, they scored a goal in one of the two last minutes of the second period in both of their
previous games. So was the case this game. The Czechs displayed a perfect powerplay, they
deked the US players and with simple passes from Rostislav Klesla and Pavel Brendl Zdenek Blatny
captured the lead at 2:1. But there was still the 5 on 4 powerplay. The second line went on the
ice and Martin Erat and Radim Vrbata showed almost the same beauty play and Radim Vrbata was the
scorer. The powerplays are one of the biggest weapons of the Czechs and they went with a two-
goal lead into the third period. It was even better in the 44th minute when Vaclav Nedorost
scored an unassisted marker of his own, it wasn’t likely that the US guys can turn this game
into a victory. But they tried hard. Ivan Rachunek realized how hard when the doctor decorated him
with three stitches on his nose. The last two minutes of the game were difficult for the Czechs,
when the referee awarded the Americans with a powerplay. But with a three-goal lead the Czechs
weren’t in serious trouble. Even if John Sabo scored the unassisted powerplay goal as his
aggresive play in front of the Czech net paid dividends. He returned the puck turned out by
Tomas Duba behind Duba’s back. But that was all. The Czechs won the game 4:2 and are sure
winners of the Group A. Even then they can’t take the last game against Slovakia easy, but the
future pros on this team surely won’t. The Czechs face Slovakia on Sunday, December 31st at 11 p.m.

Czech Republic - USA 4:2 (1:0, 2:1, 1:1)

Scoring summary

First period - 6. Vaclav Nedorost (Pavel Brendl)

Second period - 29. Jon DiSalvatore (Freddy Meyer, Ron Hainsey)
                38. Zdenek Blatny (Pavel Brendl, Rostislav Klesla) PP
                39. Radim Vrbata (Martin Erat) PP

Third period - 44. Vaclav Nedorost (unassisted)
               60. John Sabo (unassisted) PP

Powerplays - Czech Republic 2/8
             USA - 1/6

Individual player scoring
                          Goals  Assists  Points
Rostislav Klesla            0       1       1
Libor Ustrnul               0       0       0
David Pojkar                0       0       0
Jan Vytisk                  0       0       0
David Nosek                 0       0       0
Jakub Cutta                 0       0       0
Pavel Brendl                0       2       2
Vaclav Nedorost             2       0       2
Zdenek Blatny               1       0       1
Radim Vrbata                1       0       1
Michal Sivek                0       0       0
Martin Erat                 0       1       1
Ivan Rachunek               0       0       0
Marek Tomica                0       0       0
Patrik Moskal               0       0       0
Tomas Plekanec              0       0       0
Tomas Duba                  0       0       0

Team scoring leaders
                          Goals  Assists  Points
Zdenek Blatny               1       3       4
Rostislav Klesla            1       3       4
Martin Erat                 2       1       3
Vaclav Nedorost             2       1       3
Michal Sivek                2       1       3
Pavel Brendl                1       2       3
Radim Vrbata                1       2       3
Jan Choteborsky             1       1       2
Lukas Havel                 1       1       2
Ladislav Vlcek              1       0       1
Ivan Rachunek               1       0       1
Jakub Cutta                 0       1       1
Jakub Grof                  0       1       1
Marek Tomica                0       1       1
           Other players scoreless