International Ice Hockey Federation
Loading...

Necas scores SO winner

Korenar stops 51 shots in upset of Finland

Published 02.01.2018 17:47 GMT-5 | Author Andrew Podnieks
Necas scores SO winner
BUFFALO, NEW YORK - JANUARY 2: Czech Republic players celebrate after a 4-3 shoot-out win over Finland during quarterfinal round action at the 2018 IIHF World Junior Championship. (Photo by Matt Zambonin/HHOF-IIHF Images)
It was another uninspired start for Finland, and today it cost the team dearly. They rallied and took the lead, but the Czechs scored late to tie the game.

Kristian Reichel and Martin Necas then scored in the shootout for the Czechs while only Kristian Vesalainen scored for Finland.

Shots favoured Finland, 54-30, but that stat didn't matter after the game. Josef Korenar was great in goal for the Czechs.

"It feels awesome," Reichel, the son of Czech legend Robert, said. "We worked so hard for this. We deserved it. They were better but we were luckier in the shootout. Now we're celebrating."

Reichel channelled family history into his shootout goal. "When we were at the bench before the shootout, the coach asked us who wants to shoot first and who doesn't," Reichel explained. "I said I want to go first. I want to score a goal for everyone in Czech Republic. After I scored, I remembered it was 20 years ago that my dad scored on the first shot against Canada in the semi-finals at the Olympics." 

"We did it! It's unbelievable," enthused Filip Zadina, who scored twice for the Czechs. "We played great. I'm so happy. We owe a big thanks to our goalie. He played so well."

"We had plenty of chances to put the puck in the net, but the Czechs kept going and their goalie was amazing," said Finland coach Jussi Ahokas. "He played a great game, and we didn't score. That was the difference."

The win ends a long semi-finals drought for the Czech Republic. The team hadn't made it as far as the semis since 2005 when it won bronze. Finland, meanwhile, won gold in 2014 and 2016 and is going home early. The Czechs will now play the winner of Canada-Finland in one semi-finals on Thursday.

"it's been 13 years," Reichel acknowledged, "but it doesn't end today. We must work hard still. We want to win a medal now that we're in the semi-finals."

Necas had two assists in regulation time and Zadina's second goal of the game tied the score with only two and a half minutes left in regulation.

The Finns, as they did two nights ago against the United States, got off to a slow start, and although they recovered, it wasn't enough.

The Czechs opened the scoring at 6:20 on the power play when Zadina wired a high shot over the shoulder of Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen. It was the team’s seventh goal with the extra man this tournament on only 14 chances, second best to Canada.

"I didn't see any room, so I just shot top shelf, and it went in. That was great," Zadina said.

Despite holding a 15-4 shot advantage in the period, the Finns didn't have many good scoring chances, but the Czechs also failed to create greater distance on the scoreboard either.

The Finns tied the game at 3:04 of the second with a man advantage of their own. Vesalainen’s shot was blocked in front by a group of players, but Aapeli Rasanen managed to pull it from the scrum and snap it into the open goal with Korenar down and out.

The Finns took the lead at 9:53. Olli Juolevi’s quick point shot was nicely screened in front, beating Korenar over the glove on a shot the goalie really couldn’t see.

But the Czechs fought back and tied the score four and a half minutes later. Reichel made his dad happy by scooping up a loose puck in centre ice and going in on goal. He drew a penalty on the play but managed to make a nice deke on Luukkonen and roof a backhand on the play.

Shots may have been 29-15 for Finland after two periods, but the score was equal, 2-2.

Early in the third it appeared Finland had scored the goal needed to take it to the semis. Vesalainen pounced on a rebound at 6:30 after goalie Korenar made two good saves on Eeli Tolvanen. He couldn’t control the rebound, though, and Vesalainen was uncovered in front.

The Finns then played solid, two-way hockey, but as time wound down the Czechs scored the equalizer. Jakub Galvas's point shot was deftly tipped in front by Zadina, and the puck fooled Luukkonen and went in, setting the stage for a ten-minute overtime of four on four.

That OT produced previous few shots (three each) and only one real chance, when Janne Kuokkanen hit the side of the post with a shot. Beyond that, it was all caution and control.

And then came the shootout...and a little family history.

Videos