Czechs Shut Down Germany By 3-0
It took longer for the Czechs to put a puck past goaltender Dimitri Patzold than most of the 9,562 in attendance assumed it would, but unfortunately for Germany, fate was inevitable and the Czechs went on to a 3-0 victory.
Second-period goals by Tomas Fleischman and Petr Puncochar gave the Czechs all the firepower they needed on this night as they cruised to victory. Jiri Hudler went on to score in the third period to complete the scoring, but from the opening face-off it was clear that the Czech Republic was one step ahead of the Germans.
The first period was dominated by the Czechs, who outshot the Germans 12-3. The Czechs spent most of the opening frame in the attacking zone, and only Patzold’s strong play in goal was enough to keep the teams on equal footing after 20 minutes. "At least my team was more aggressive today," Patzold said. "We battled and played better defence, but we need to score goals." The German team is now scoreless through six periods.
The forward line of Hudler, Jiri Novotny, and Milan Michalek had numerous chances to put the puck by Patzold, only to be denied by the German backstop. "The first win is a big one," said Hudler, "It was a tough game, but they are all tough games. Their goaltender played good and really kept the game close. It was only a matter of time until we scored."
Before the game German Head Coach Ernst Hofner said his team would switch to a four-man-back system in an attempt to control the goals against. His team followed the game plan for the opening frame, but to start the second period, the team abandoned its defensive style and looked to attack, much to the pleasure of the partisan Halifax crowd.
Team Germany was able to sustain pressure for the first five minutes of the second period, actually out shooting the Czechs 7-0 at one point. Unfortunately, the German energy was short lived, and Fleischman scored on the Czechs first shot of the period at 6:10, a goal that demoralized the Germans.
After the goal, the momentum was clearly back with the Czechs for the rest of the game. Afterward, Fleischman was happy with his timely goal: "We needed it, and I am glad I got it. They had pressure on us and the crowd was supporting them. It was good to quiet the crowd."
Hudler, a prospect in the Detroit Red Wings organization, was the player of the game for the Czechs. Just playing at this tournament was an accomplishment for him. He was making his return to hockey after sustaining a major neck injury when he was slashed in the throat. At one point, Hudler had been ranked as high as number three entering the 2002 NHL entry draft before his injury dropped him all the way to number 58 where Detroit anxiously scooped him up. "The injury didn’t help the draft," he said after his two-point performance, "but I was very glad to be drafted into such a great organization like Detriot."
Both teams play their next game against Canada, the Czechs facing them Saturday afternoon at 2:10pm, and the Germans facing them on Sunday at 4:10pm. Both games will be played at the Metro Centre in Halifax.
Czechs Shut Out Germany 3-0
The Czechs started the 2003 World Junior Championship on a winning note, defeating a resilient German team 3-0 before a near capacity crowd of 9,562 fans in Halifax. Martin Falter recorded the shutout for the Czechs who got goals from Tomas Fleischman, Petr Puncochar, and Jiri Hudler. Only three minor penalties were called all game (full report to follow)
Czechs take 2-0 lead into third
Germany has played five periods of hockey at the 2003 U20 so far, and the team has yet to score a goal. But tonight, the Germans are doing an admirable job keeping the Czechs at bay. Through two periods, they are down 2-0 and took the play to the Czechs in the early part of the second, outshooting them 6-0 before surrendering the first goal of the game to Tomas Fleischman at 6:10. The Germans had a terrific chance to score when they drew the first penalty of the game midway through the period, but the Czechs killed that disadvantage and scored a power-play goal of their own a few minutes later when Petr Puncochar whacked home a rebound from in close.
Germany and the Czech Republic skated to a scoreless first period in Halifax thanks only to the excellent goaltending of Dimitri Patzold in the German net. The Czechs dominated play and their own goalie, Martin Falter, had only to stop a few harmless shots from long range.r
Germany looks to rebound; while Czech Republic aiming for strong start
Perhaps one of the best qualities of international competition is the intense nationalism that develops and the rivalries a country can develop. This year’s IIHF World Junior Championships feature many ‘cross-border’ rivalries, stretching from Canada and the United States to Finland and Russia. Another of these border clashes will be featured on Friday as Germany and the Czech Republic meet at Halifax.
Because the IIHF World Junior Championships consist of just four round robin games per team before the medal round, each and every game is important. Both of these teams clearly understand that. Germany was outgunned and outplayed in its first game against Finland, losing the game 4-0. The loss puts added pressure on the Germans to come out strong in their second game, knowing that their slim medal round chances could evaporate with a loss against the Czech Republic (they have tough games against Canada and Sweden still to come). The Czech Republic, on the other hand, had the luxury of a day off during this short tournament, content to scout the Germans and prepare for what they already see as a must win game in Pool B.
The Czech Republic enter this year’s edition of the IIHF World Junior Championships a different team from last year. After taking the gold medal in 2000 and 2001, the Czechs had an abysmal showing last year, finishing seventh in a tournament that was hosted in their own country. With only three players returning from last year’s squad, the Czechs will hope youth and skill can return them to the pinnacle of the junior ranks.
The Czechs also come in with one of the most North American familiar lineups among those teams competing from overseas as eight of the twenty-two Czechs play their club hockey in North America. Germany will have to be leery of a pair of first-round draft picks playing significant roles for the Czech Republic. Jiri Novotny was the 22nd pick overall in the NHL draft last year, going to the Buffalo Sabres. Novotny’s 6’4” frame and soft goal-scoring hands drive opponents in the AHL crazy. Look for him to do the same in this tournament.
Lukas Krajicek, on the other hand, is a blueliner who has spent two years with the OHL’s Peterborough Petes. The 24th pick in last year’s draft by the Florida Panthers will also be integral to the team’s success. Perhaps the biggest question mark for the Czech Republic is in goal. The team lost their two goalies from last season. Lukas Mensator will most likely get the number-one job, the team banking heavily on his stellar performance in this year’s U18 championship (1.57GAA, .947 Save%). After surrendering five goals in his only pre-competition game against the Swiss, however, worry has renewed among the Czechs.
If Team Germany has anything going for it, it is that it has already played its first game and now has an opportunity to work out the kinks. Suffering from inconsistent play, the Germans were handed a 4-0 defeat at the hands of the Finns in the first game of the tournament yesterday afternoon. The game featured a rash of German penalties that resulted in an insurmountable Finn lead. German Head Coach Ernst Hofner says that the plan is simple--live and learn before moving on to the next challenge. “We’re going to watch film of the game against Finland and I’m going to show them the bad penalties and the bad plays, and we will not make those mistakes against the Czech Republic. We will try to play a sounder game defensively, playing probably four guys back, putting the pressure on our transition game. That, hopefully, will allow us odd-man rushes.”
The teams will hit the ice at 7pm local time in what could very well turn out to be a key match-up for both squads. German player Marcus Kink states the situation against the Czech Republic very simply, “it is an important game. We must play hard and to our style of play and then we can beat them.”
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André Brin Director, Communications | Directeur, communications