We owed it to the participating teams to do our best to create the conditions necessary for this event to work. Unfortunately this was not enough. We now have to take some time and focus on getting all players and team staff back home safely. The federation changed its safety protocols this year from the 2021 World Juniors Championship where a bubble was in place for all involved in the event to help prevent the spread of the virus. With no bubble the COVID19 cases became a serious safety concern.
IIHF President Luc Tardif said:
The Czech Republic forfeited its game against Finland and Russia forfeited its game against Slovakia. With a change in protocols this year and players coaches and staff staying at a hotel open to the public many expressed their frustrations with how it was all organized. Hockey Canada President Scott Smith and CEO Tom Renney maintain that safety of everyone was always the main goal.
It’s a happy day in Prague. The Czechs scored three power play goals en route to a 41 quarterfinal win over Germany with a strong controlled performance in Helsinki on Thursday. This is the fourth time in eight Worlds that Czechia has advanced to the semifinals. HC Olomouc’s David Krejci stepped up with a goal and a pair of assists and his longtime Boston Bruins teammate David Pastrnak got a goal and an assist. Captain Roman Cervenka had a goal and an assist as well and is bidding for the 2022 scoring crown.
Czechia last won the gold medal at the 2010 Worlds in Cologne. They added bronze medals in 2011 in Bratislava and 2012 in Helsinki. They have not medalled since. Coach Kari Jalonen’s Czech team controlled the tempo with confident puck movement. Moritz Seider had the lone goal for Germany. It was reminiscent of the last Worlds meeting between these nations. Czechia thumped Germany 51 in the 2019 quarterfinal in Bratislava.
In goal Czechia’s Karel Vejmelka earned his fourth tournament win while Germany’s Philipp Grubauer had a tough time with his opportunistic foes. Czechia outshot Germany 2422. This was a coaching showdown between two Finns in Jalonen and Germany’s Toni Soderholm. Finnish hockey is a small world. In fact Soderholm a former defenceman was the Finnish playoff MVP when Jalonen coached HIFK to the Helsinki club’s last title in 2011. Jalonen’s biggest IIHF moment was guiding Finland to silver at the 2016 Worlds in Moscow.
In 2018 Germany embarked on a Cinderella run to capture the Olympic silver medal in PyeongChang. Under Soderholm the Germans finished sixth at the 2019 Worlds in Bratislava and fourth at the 2021 Worlds in Riga. Still Germany has not medalled at the Worlds since 1953’s silver. Despite positive progress the search continues.
The Germans came in with the tournament’s secondranked power play clicking at 34.7 percent (8for23) whereas the Czechs’ fifthranked power play was at 27.7 percent (5for18). But Czechia was on fire on Monday. Grubauer made a fine glove stop on Tomas Hertl early in the Czech man advantage but when Krejci pivoted in the slot to feed Pastrnak in the left faceoff circle the sniper fired it into the gaping cage for a 10 lead at 2:17.
At 10:04 the Czechs stretched their lead to 20 with some precision puck movement on their second power play. Pastrnak playing the point fed the puck to Krejci who located Cervenka in the right faceoff circle for a onetimer that Grubauer had no chance on. Pastrnak has put up seven points in five games since joining Czechia in Finland. With Krejci and Germany’s Matthias Plachta off for hacking each other in the neutral zone Chicago Blackhawks prospect Lukas Reichel had the best chance at 4on4. Reichel accelerated around Filip Hronek and lifted a shot off Vejmelka’s left post. But there was no puck luck for Soderholm’s men.
Cervenka atoned for taking a midsecond period roughing minor by drawing a penalty when he got out of the box. It took just 12 seconds for Krejci to capitalize with a left faceoff circle onetimer similar to Pastrnak’s opening goal. Grubauer kept his team in it when he beat Blumel who had broken into the clear in a foot race for the puck inside the German blue line. At the other end Loibl couldn’t jam a rebound past the resolute Vejmelka.
Germany’s tough puck luck persisted. Before the middle frame ended Marcel Noebels put one off the cross bar in tight on an oddman rush.
In the third period the Germans tried to mount a push but in classic Czech fashion red sweaters clogged the neutral zone as the clock counted down.
Soderholm pulled Grubauer for the extra attacker with Tomas Kundratek off for tripping. It was a classic “game of inches” moment.
Smejkal sealed the deal with an emptynetter with 1:50 left. The result extends Czechia’s World Championship winning streak versus Germany to five games. Germany’s last win over Czechia at the Worlds was 20 on 3 May 2007 in Moscow. Michael Hackert scored the winner on a late firstperiod power play and goalie Dmitrij Kotschnew had a 21save shutout. Both teams had noteworthy scratches on defence. David Jiricek who averaged 10:28 in ice time in five group stage games sat out for Czechia. The 18yearold Klatovy native is a prospective top10 pick in the upcoming NHL Draft. sources by