Czech Republic vs. Sweden WJC Semifinal Game Recap

By Robert Neuhauser
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 there
was not such a big problem. Tomas Plekanec played center of the third line with wingers
Patrik Moskal and Lukas Havel instead of Tomica and Vlcek.

The game began and the Swedes made their presence felt with hard, fast and aggresive hockey.
That was not a round robin game, the pace of this game was higher. But the fortune was once
again on the Czech side and sent a Swedish player to the penalty box in the 8th minute. The
second line of Vrbata – Sivek – Erat tried their luck but Henrik Lundqvist was still holding the
shutout. So the first line went onto the ice. And there was Rostislav Klesla passing to Libor
Ustrnul, who passed the puck to Zdenek Blatny at the top of the right faceoff circle, Blatny
received the pass and fired a wrist shot which went just over Henrik Lundqvist’s shoulder
into the net – 1:0, powerplay goal! After the game Blatny stated that he sometimes scores
like this when playing for the Kootenay Ice, he said that he looks where is the goalie, closes
his eyes and shoots to the upper corner of the net. Very useful this time!

But the Swedes didn’t want to give up so easily and they fought as hard as they could. The Czech
squad made their situation a bit easier with lots of fouls and Martin Erat receiving a 10-minute
penalty. In the second period the Swedes played almost seven minutes with an extra man, but it
was Tomas Duba who was the biggest star on the ice. He held the hopes of the Czech team in
the second period when he stopped Los Angeles Kings’ prospect Tim Eriksson on a breakaway and
robbed Chicago Blackhawks’ talent Jonas Nordqvist on another break situation.

Michal Sivek could increase the lead of the Czech team, but failed to score while standing
in front of Lundqvist. And the Swedes increased the tempo of their attacks even more – but
Duba was like Dominik Hasek in Nagano – a wall. He said to the defensemen to bring the puck
out of the Czech zone whenever they could, even if it hurts the forwards who can’t receive
accurate passes. Such a game can be decided by a single mistake. And fortune – and Tomas Duba –
wanted it to be the Swedish in the 10th minute. After 60 minutes there was still 1:0 for the
Czechs on the scoreboard. The czechs won! Tomas Duba turned aside 29 shots, Henrik Lundqvist
just 15. That was a victory of the tactics and Tomas Duba.

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

Scoring summary

First period - 10. Zdenek Blatny (Rostislav Klesla, Libor Ustrnul) PP 1:0

Second period - no scoring

Third period - no scoring

Powerplays - Czech Republic 1/5
             Sweden - 0/10

Goalies - Tomas Duba (CZE) 29 saves/29 shots
          Henrik Lundqvist (SWE) 15 saves/16 shots

Attendance: 2500

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

Team scoring leaders
                        Goals  Assists  Points
Pavel Brendl              4       5        9
Vaclav Nedorost           3       5        8
Zdenek Blatny             4       3        7
Rostislav Klesla          2       4        6
Martin Erat               2       1        3
Michal Sivek              2       1        3
Radim Vrbata              1       2        3
Jan Choteborsky           1       1        2
Lukas Havel               1       1        2
Marek Tomica              1       1        2
Tomas Plekanec            1       1        2
Ivan Rachunek             1       0        1
Ladislav Vlcek            1       0        1
Jakub Cutta               0       1        1
Jakub Grof                0       1        1
Patrik Moskal             0       1        1
Libor Ustrnul             0       1        1
             Other players scoreless