International Ice Hockey Federation

Czechs romp to victory

Czechs romp to victory

Swiss to face Canada in quarter-final

Published 31.12.2017 15:16 GMT-5 | Author Lucas Aykroyd
Czechs romp to victory
BUFFALO, NEW YORK - DECEMBER 31: The Czech Republic's Jakub Lauko #20 scores the opening goal against Switzerland's Philip Wuthrich #30 during the preliminary round of the 2018 IIHF World Junior Championship. (Photo by Andrea Cardin/HHOF-IIHF Images)
The Czech Republic completed group play by hammering Switzerland 6-3 on Sunday. The Swiss finish fourth in Group B and will face Canada in the quarter-finals.

The Czechs pounded Swiss goalie Philip Wuthrich, outshooting their opponents 60-31.

"We said in the dressing room that we must be better than yesterday [in a 6-5 win over Belarus] and be focused on the game," said Kristian Reichel, who scored twice for the Czechs. "I think we played pretty good. Sixty shots, that’s a bonus."

The result leaves the Czechs in second place in Group B, pending the outcome of the last game between Russia and Sweden. The Russians can overtake the Czechs with a regulation-time win over Sweden.

"We played well today, and it's great that we won," said Filip Zadina. "Now we have to get ready for the quarter-finals."

With an 18-15 goal difference, the Czechs are continuing to fill the net -- they clicked twice with the man advantage versus the Swiss -- but also have some question marks defensively as they seek their first World Junior medal since 2005's bronze.

Switzerland has never beaten Canada in 21 tries in World Junior competition. The last encounter on 29 December, 2015 was close, with Canada prevailing 3-2 in a shootout in Helsinki.

Swiss coach Christian Wohlwend was frank about his team's underdog status versus the 2017 silver medalists: "They have dominated us. We are far away from them. They're faster. They're bigger. They're stronger. They can shoot better. They can pass better. They can do everything better."

For the Czechs, Martin Necas, Martin Kaut, and Daniel Kurovsky added a goal and an assist apiece. Jakub Lauko also scored, and Libor Hajek earned two assists.

"It’s awesome," said Reichel. "It’s the best result in 10 years for us, finishing [the group] with nine points. But the main playoffs start on the second of January, so we must be prepared on the second of January."

Ken Jager, Dario Rohrbach, and Elia Riva replied for Switzerland.

Looking ahead to Canada, Swiss captain Nando Eggenberger said: "We have to score when we have the chance. We have to focus on our defence and block shots, and shoot on their net."

The wide-open first period saw the Czechs outshoot Switzerland 22-14. It took just 2:38 for the Czechs to get rolling. Coming down left wing, Lauko tried to slide a pass in front to Kurovsky, but when Wuthrich bobbled the rebound, Lauko swooped in to tuck it around the fallen netminder.

Just 13 seconds later, the Swiss struck back. Jager surprised Czech starter Jakub Skarek with a quick shot over the glove from the left faceoff circle.

At 11:07, Necas made it 2-1 in a wacky sequence. Kaut put it off the inside of Wuthrich’s left post, and the goalie cleared it away, only to have Necas lift it past him from the high slot seconds later.

In the second period, Reichel, the son of Czech legend Robert Reichel, made it 2-1 at 2:11. Radovan Pavlik intercepted the puck from defenceman Davyd Barandun inside the Swiss blue line and dipsy-doodled toward the net before backhanding a pass to Reichel, who scored with a high backhand.

This time the Swiss had an even quicker reply – nine seconds later. Rohrbach burst down right wing and beat Skarek cleanly on the glove side.

"We’ve been allowing goals after our goals," admitted Hajek. "It was a little scary when they always score after we score!"

At 3:55, the Swiss made it 3-3 on the power play as Riva’s rising wrister from the center point eluded Skarek through traffic.

Looking for a momentum-changer, Czech coach Filip Pesan replaced Skarek with Josef Korenar, but that didn’t immediately inspire his team to tighten up defensively. Moments later, Switzerland’s Guillaume Maillard hit the post on a clean breakaway

Kaut made it 4-3 for the Czechs at 8:38 as he finished off a pretty three-way passing rush by sliding it through Wuthrich.

In the third period, the Czechs enjoyed a 22-8 shots edge. Kurovsky forced a Swiss turnover and rushed in, got the puck back from Petr Kodytek, and zipped the 5-3 marker home at 7:46.

With about six minutes remaining, Lauko was shaken up in a collision with two Swiss players and skated off with the help of his teammates.

With 2:20 left, Reichel put the icing on the cake as the assistant captain busted to the net and scored on a backhand move to make it 6-3.

"In the third period we held on and didn’t let them score," said Hajek. "We played simple."

The Swiss have won three quarter-finals all-time. In 1998 in Finland, Bjorn Christen’s 2-1 shootout winner against Sweden put them on the road to bronze. In 2002 in the Czech Republic, Sven Helfenstein got the winner in another shootout, 3-2 over Sweden, and the Swiss wound up losing the bronze medal game to Finland. And in 2010 in Canada, Nino Niederreiter famously notched the last-minute tying goal and the overtime winner versus Russia en route to a fourth-place finish.

Of 2010, Eggenberger said: "I’m from the same city as him. We saw what Nino Niederreiter did, and now we have to do the same thing."

Swiss defenceman Dominik Egli was listed on the roster but did not participate in the game due to a hand injury. The 19-year-old World Junior rookie, who has played for Kloten and Winterthur this season, averaged 20:51 in his team’s first three games.

 

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