Game Summary

Czech Republic 5 - Slovakia 3

Round Robin
Friday, December 30, 2005
19:00 PAC
Kelowna, BC

KREJCI’S HAT TRICK LIFTS CZECHS OVER SLOVAKS

By Kevin Parnell | Box Score

David Krejci knew he was going to break out sooner or later in the 2006 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship. That it happened against rival Slovakia is just an added bonus. Krejci scored three goals in the Czech Republic's 5-3 win over Slovakia in Kelowna Friday night.

As a result, the Slovaks face a must-win game on Saturday versus Sweden to determine who will get the last elimination round berth. Meanwhile, the Czechs will have a tough game against the Russians, who have won three straight.

Krejci scored twice in the first period and once more in the second to pace his team.

“It was a very important game for us,” said Krejci. “We played hard. We had to win. It doesn’t matter if you score three goals or nothing. It was a very important game.”

Tomas Kudelka and Petr Pohl had the other Czech goals.

Ladislav Scurko, with his first goal in international play, scored for Slovakia, along with Juraj Gracik and Marek Zagrapan.

Krejci’s second goal of the game made the score 3-1 at 10:22 of the first and spelled the end of the night for Slovak starting goalie Michal Valent. Krejci’s bad angle shot slid between Valent’s pad and the post. He was replaced by Vladimir Kovac, who was solid in his second relief appearance in a row, allowing just two goals.

Slovak Head Coach Branislav Sajban said he started Valent because he plays in the Czech league. “The decision for the goalie today was because Valent is playing in the Czech league and playing against the Czechs, so it was understandable that we would give him the start,” said Sajban through an interpreter.

There was also a surprise starter for the Czechs as Radek Fiala got the start ahead of Marek Schwarz after not allowing a goal in relief of Schwarz in the 3-2 loss to Sweden. Fiala made 34 saves for the win Friday.

The game began quickly as Krejci pushed home a rebound just 26 seconds in for a 1-0 Czech lead. Just 1:12 later, however, the Slovaks replied with a quick goal of their own as Zagrapan flipped a rebound into the net for his second goal of the tournament at 1:38 of the first.

“We had a very good start to the game,” said Czech Head Coach Radim Rulik. “We are satisfied. We played very good defensively. We are happy with the victory to keep us in the tournament.”

The refereeing, which has been a hot button topic through the first week of the tournament, was more forgiving here, as Jyri Petteri Ronn didn’t call the game as closely as other officials have so far. The Slovaks ended the night 3-for-8 on the power play while the Czech Republic went 1-for-5.

“It’s hard for players and it’s hard for coaches,” said Rulik. “We were surprised tonight. I think everyone in the tournament has been surprised about the reffing. [Tonight] it was good for the game. The ref let them play.”

PREVIEW: CZECH REP. - SLOVAKIA

By Kevin Parnell

Czech Republic: With a Saturday showdown against the Russians looming, the Czechs need a win Friday as they try to secure a spot in the Final Round. The Czechs enter tonight’s game with one win and one loss, including a 5-1 victory over Latvia and a 3-2 defeat versus Sweden. Look for goaltender Marek Schwarz to be back between the pipes for the Czech Republic after the former Vancouver Giant was pulled in the loss to Sweden. Schwarz, the consensus number one man, was replaced by Radek Fiala, but is expected to get the call in what amounts to almost a must-win for the Czechs tonight. The Czechs need more offense from first-round NHL draft choice (Phoenix) Martin Hanzal, who has contributed two assists so far but is capable of doing more. Even more importantly, they need to stay out of the penalty box in what has turned into a special teams-laden tournament. A steady parade of penalties cost the Czechs in Wednesday’s loss to Sweden.

Slovakia: The Slovaks are also approaching tonight’s game against the Czech Republic as a must win as they will finish off the Round Robin Saturday against Sweden. Whoever wins this “battle of brothers” will vastly improve its chances of moving on. The Slovaks have been relying on Quebec Major Junior League standouts Stanislav Lascek and Marek Zagrapan, who have provided the team with most of its offense. But they will need to spread the scoring around and tighten up defensively if they hope to beat the Czechs. Boris Valabik has been a tower of power on the blueline, accumulating 16 penalty minutes and a point per game while achieving a +2 plus-minus rating. The Slovaks felt they gave Russia too much respect in the first period in a 6-2 loss Wednesday night. If they do the same here, this one will be over quickly as well.

For more information:
André Brin Director, Communications | Directeur, communications