The Czechs Resisted, but Canada Scores the First Points of the Tournament With a 3-0 Win

A total of 975 spectators found their way see the second game on the first day of the IPH Cup. The newly elected captain of the national team, Radek Zelinka, with assistants Václav Hečko and Miroslav Novotný lead their teammates into battle against Canada. The Czechs were able to be equal opponents in the first period, but over time Canada’s game experience showed. The first goal was scored in the 39th minute, the second goal wasn’t scored until the third period with Hickey sealing the game’s fate with a shot into an empty net.

The opening face-off was won by Team Canada. McGregor was the first to test the home team’s goalkeeper Kudela, but he aimed too high. It began to look like the Czechs would be able to pull off a quick attack when Geier received a pass at the offensive blue line, but the Canadians were able to check him. Hečko, who was blocking well, was then able to stop the Canadian offence. He then sent to puck to Ohar, who took a shot at Heneault from the left. The Czech players settled in the zone, Hečko took a shot over a defending player, the puck then ended up outside the ice surface area and was finally stopped by Huneault’s chest. In about the fourth minute, Cozzolino, from Team Canada, made a perfect lunge, but Kudela was not letting anything get past him in the goal. On the opposite side, he passed to Sedláček, who got behind Geier’s defence, but the puck was out of the Czech forward’s reach. The Czechs kept to their side of the offensive zone and didn’t give their opponents much space, but the Canadian goalkeeper didn’t have much to do. He had to be careful nonetheless during Sedláček’s and Hečko’s offense, but he was able to cope. Even another attempt by the guest team to open up the score did not work as Zelinka was too close to the goal. Dunn then got a chance, but he couldn’t get around the wall of players in white jerseys. Dunn immediately tried again in cooperation with Cozzolino, but Kudela was opposed and quickly covered the puck. Armstrong had another chance after receiving the puck right after the throw-in but was only able to aim it into the glove of the Czech goalkeeper. The Canadians then tried to shoot from all positions, Hickey rode in front of the goal, but missed. During his next shot he sent the puck once again towards the goal, Cozzolino reached out but wasn’t able to get the puck behind Kudela’s back. Both teams left the ice after the first period goalless.

The Czechs started the second period with an offense play, but the home team managed to deal with them. Armstrong rode towards the goal in a counterattack but didn’t manage to lift the puck and it ended up in Kudela’s catcher. Zelinka was sent to the penalty box, Canada occupied the offensive zone, Cozzolino saved in the blue zone, sent the puck to Dunn, who passed it to a teammate, and Liam Hickey punished captain Zelinka’s foul play with a shot into the top corner of the net – 1:0.

Visiting Doležal intercepted Canada’s pass and sent the puck into the zone in front of Huneault. Ohar took advantage of the chance and quickly shot from the circle into the goalkeeper’s glove, but the goalkeeper was attentive. Kubeš could have evened out the score in approximately the fifth minute, when he shot the puck towards Huneault’s cage, but the puck only hit the crossbar! The Czechs didn’t wait around too long for another shot, but Palát missed Hábl’s pass from the blue line. Sedláček’s shot also missed the goalpost. Hickey tried to counterattack, but Kudela was exactly where he was supposed to be. The Canadians occupied the offensive zone, but an attentive and responsive goalkeeper stood in their way. McGregor had a good chance, he sent the puck into the middle of the goal, but his teammates weren’t near the goal to send the puck into the net. Jacobs-Webb tried to shoot twice without success, same as Henry, who was shooting from the blue line, and Kudela pounced on the puck and pushed it into the corner. In short, the Czech goalkeeper did some magic in those moments and kept the score difference at bay. On the opposite side, Geier tried scoring again, but Huneault was alert. The last seconds of the second period belonged to the Canadian team, but they didn’t add another goal to their score.

The decisive third period

The Czech team opened the third period with an attack, but Hečko was stopped in the circle. McGregor tried to counterattack, but he missed Kudela’s goalpost. Novotný was stopped by Crane, who was faster in the defensive zone. The Czechs did not lay down their weapons, Zelinka shot from the circle, but only at the goalkeeper. Auclair sent an easy shot to Kudela, which meant the Czechs could go into quick offence. Geier came up in front but was stopped at the boards. The Canadians were pushing more into the offensive zone, Jacobs-Webb’s shot hit Kudela’s pads, and Halbert’s shot was pushed out by Kudela’s glove in the corner. Huneault had to stay alert during Palát’s play, in cooperation with Krupička, the puck ended up under Huneault, but Sedláček couldn’t get to it. The Czech representatives managed to stay in the offensive zone, but the Canadians didn’t let them do anything. On the contrary, after Messaoudi’s pass to Levièvre, the scoreboard lit up 2:0. Coach Bříza’s players had a power play at their disposal for Dunn’s foul, but they were unable to use it. Less than two minutes before the end of the game, the Czechs took a time-out, after which Kudela remained on the substitutes’ bench. Canada got the puck, Cozzolino found Hickey, who was unstoppable even by Hečko, and the home team could rejoice with the score jumping to 3:0. At that point, the Czech had to accept their defeat as there wasn’t much time left until the end of the third period.

Goals: 18. Hickey (Dunn), 39. Levièvre (Messaoudi), 44. Hickey (Cozzolino)

Suspension: 1:1

Power play: 1:0

Short-handed play: 0:0

Referees: Danielsen – Hermansen, Rundstrom

Best player of the game:

CZE – Martin Kudela

CAN – Lavin Zach

CZE – Kudela (Vápenka) – Kubeš, Doležal, Zelinka (C), Vágner – Geier, Sedláček, Hečko (A) – Novotný (A), Ohar, Veselý – Krupička, Hábl, Palát

CAN – Huneault (Rietveld, Kingsmill) – Henry, Lavin, Armstrong, Halbert, Kovacevich, Crane, Leblanc – Boily, Jacobs-Webb, McGregor (C) – Cozzolino, Hickey (A), Dunn (A) – Levièvre, Smith,, Messaoudi – Auclair, Swafford

Text: Monika  Baloghová Photo: Radim Horák