International Ice Hockey Federation

Czechs outgun Belarus

Czechs outgun Belarus

Pavlik scores twice, Belarusians to relegation

Published 30.12.2017 15:27 GMT-5 | Author Lucas Aykroyd
Czechs outgun Belarus
BUFFALO, NEW YORK - DECEMBER 30: The Czech Republic's Daniel Kurovsky #15 plays the puck while fending off Sergei Pishuk #14 of Belarus during preliminary round action at the 2018 IIHF World Junior Championship. (Photo by Matt Zambonin/HHOF-IIHF Images)
Despite poor discipline, the Czechs hung on to defeat Belarus 6-5 in a wild affair on Saturday. Radovan Pavlik sparked the offence with a pair of goals.

Captain Marek Zachar, who had the eventual winner with 6:37 left, and Filip Chytil each added a goal and an assist. Libor Hajek and Filip Zadina had the other Czech goals, and Vojtech Budik had two assists.

"We really underestimated the game," said Hajek. "Everyone wants to score, everyone wants to play just for himself. That’s why we almost lost. We had good luck today. But it was kind of a terrible game."

The Czechs trailed 2-0 early in the second period. After pulling goalie Josef Korenar in favor of Jakub Skarek, they stormed back with five unanswered goals, but then almost blew their hefty lead.

Yegor Sharangovich scored twice, Ivan Drozdov had a goal and an assist, and Igor Martynov and Vladislav Gabrus added singles for Belarus, which also swapped out goalies. Captain Maxim Sushko, Vladislav Yeryomenko, and Viktor Bovbel recorded two assists apiece.

Shots favored the Czechs 39-21.

"Sometimes we need to play an easier game," said Zadina. "We’re trying to find hard passes. It was a tough game. I’m happy we won today."

The Czechs have one more chance to shore up their quarter-final seeding when they face Switzerland on New Year’s Eve. Both nations are enduring long World Junior medal droughts. The Czechs last won bronze in 2005 and Switzerland in 1998.

It was a gutsy effort by the underdog Belarusians, but they came away with nothing to show for it. Winless in all four group games, they will play in the relegation round. The Belarusians have been outscored 20-10 so far.

"It was our best game so far, but we had a bad second period," said Drozdov. "We played well for 30 minutes and we have to build on this."

At 8:31, Belarus jumped out to a 1-0 lead on its first power play. Sharangovich came off the right side and sniped it past Korenar’s glove. It was the assistant captain’s second goal of the tournament.

Poor discipline was a constant problem for the Czechs. In front of the Belarusian net, forward Jakub Lauko received a major and game misconduct for slashing defenceman Vladislav Gavrus in the groin area. But the Belarusians couldn’t generate any great scoring chances over five minutes.

Top Belarusian goalie Andrei Grishenko was shaken up shortly afterwards when Chytil took the puck to the net and was driven into the goalie by defenceman Dmitri Deryabin. However, Grishenko stayed in.

"I don’t know what happened in the first period," Zadina said.

The second period got off to a crazy start. Belarus continued to see production from its top players. Sushko centred the puck from behind the net to Drozdov, who slid a backhander through Kolenar's legs. Just 48 seconds into the frame, Czech coach Filip Pesan decided to change things up. Kolenar’s second start ended as Skarek took over.

It was a wake-up call that worked. The Czechs struck back with lightning ferocity, scoring twice in just 24 seconds.

At 1:29, Pavlik finished off a discombobulated rush by whacking a rebound between Grishenko’s pad and the right post. At 1:53, Hajek cruised into the high slot and zinged home a high glove-side wrister to tie it up.

Deryabin continued to give his own goalie fits, shoving another onrushing Czech into Grishenko. This time he got an interference penalty, and it took just 13 seconds for Zadina to make Belarus pay as he one-timed a rebound into the gaping cage.

The Belarusians came achingly close to the tying goal on a mid-second period shift when Drozdov hit the post and Martynov almost converted a wrap-around.

At 12:45, Chytil made it 4-2 when he banged in captain Marek Zachar’s close-range centering pass from behind the net.

Pavlik gave the Czechs a three-goal lead when he took Chytil’s centering pass on the rush and banged his own rebound through Grishenko. Now it was Belarus’s turn to swap out goalies as Dmitri Rodik saw his first World Junior action ever. And as with the Czechs, the change proved to be a momentum-changer.

With 1:15 left in the middle frame, Sharangovich cut the deficit to 5-3 with a sweet power-play one-timer. Drozdov fired high and wide on a breakaway.

In the third period, the Czechs continued to misbehave. Pavlik got a misconduct for shooting the puck in the net on an icing call. On the power play, Martynov got Belarus within one goal at 10:27 with a top-shelf snipe.

Zachar made it 6-4 at 13:23 when he cut in off the wing to launch a lovely backhander past Drodzik.

However, Belarus wasn't done. With 5:08 left, Gabrus grabbed the puck in the neutral zone and swooped in to send a high one past Rodik. But that was as close as Belarus would get.

"We have to play way better," said Hajek. "We have to beat a team like Belarus the right way. If we want to play with the U.S. or Canada, this is not the kind of game we can win. We have to play better. Hopefully tomorrow."

 

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