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World Championships 2011 - Quarter Finals - Day 1

Thursday, 12th May 2011

Czech Republic 4-0 USA

Before we go on, an explanation of saying Conklin and Montoya were inexperienced at this level. Both have played 1 tournament before this one and in 2004 Conklin was voted goalie of the tournament. What I stand by is that they are an inexperienced pair of goalies for this competition but this is nothing out of the normal for the North American teams in the competition.

This game was men against boys and the great Jaromir Jagr and his protégé Tomas Plekanec ran the USA ragged. Czech Republic tried to get at Conklin early, shooting from all angles hoping for the rebounds he is known to give up. USA should have gone ahead on 3 minutes when a bouncing puck came off Zidlicky’s skate and hit the post with Pavalec nowhere to be seen. Around the half way point USA put some pressure on the Czechs on the power play. Stepan centred the puck from behind the net to Craig Smith who failed to take advantage. Jagr scored his first goal at 18.45. All three Czech forwards rushed the net and Jagr was in the right place at the right time to squeeze the puck through Conklin’s pads. End of the first and a fairly even game with the Czechs technically the better side and 1-0 up.

The Czech Republic had good grounds for a penalty goal at the start of the second period. Plekanec broke away and rounded the net and as he finished off his wraparound, two defenders dislodged the net, deliberately in my mind. With 24.47 gone, Jagr scored his second goal with a huge one-timer from the right faceoff circle. The puck deflected off Komisarek’s stick and sent Conklin the wrong way. 2-0 and the game was slipping away from the USA. The Czechs then sat back as they always do and invited USA to come at them, but denying them any space at all. It was a classic Czech gameplan which allowed them to dictate and punch hard on the counter attack. End of the second 2-0 to Czech Republic and there only looks like one winner here.

USA had most of the puck for the first 10 minutes of the period but never really challenged Pavelec. With 10.33 gone, Tomas Plekanec scored when he took a lovely feed from Frolik to power home a shot from the left faceoff circle. 20 seconds later van Riemsdyjk should have gone to the box with a hack and a slash at Pavelec as he lost the puck between his pads. With eight minutes left Patrik Elias was left in a heap on the ice after a blindside hit from Jack Johnson. The elbows looked high to me and the panel would probably have sat on this one, had USA gone through. The Americans were playing a more physical game but the Czechs were not biting and the referees were duly punishing USA for their transgressions. The icing on the cake came on 56.25 when, not surprisingly, on the powerplay, Jagr hit his hat trick goal. Working a lovely give and go with Plekanec he easily beat Conklin down low for 4-0. The delirious Czech fans covered the ice with hats and shouted Jagr’s name. End of the match and a comfortable win for Czech Republic. They have now won 6 games in a row and are looking good for a repeat of last year’s gold medal.

Pavelec was awarded the Czech man of the match for his 29 save shut out but there was only one man of the match on the lips of the nine thousand crowd, that of Jaromir Jagr, still world class at 39 years of age. The defending champions now await the winner of the evening game between Sweden and Germany.

SWEDEN 5-2 GERMANY

What is it with the Germans and slow starts to a game? For the third time in four matches, they gave away a goal in the first minute. Not only that, they even scored the goal for the opposition. Against Finland, a German D man deflected a pass into his own net after 13 seconds, against the Czechs a D man pushed the puck into his own net after 51 seconds and against the Swedes last night something very similar happened.

With only 27 seconds gone, Marcus Thornberg took a slapshot from the top of the circle and it found its way past Endras via the pants of a defenseman. There was a sense of déjà vu to this one as Germany shrugged the incident off and equalised on 2.01. Markus Kink took advantage of a Swedish breakdown in the German zone and passed to Frank Mauer. Mauer sent a long pass through the neutral zone right to Barta, who controlled the puck with his skate and sent a wrister high on the glove side past Fasth. Neither team took control of the game in the first period as the puck was turned over at regular interals. However, Sweden went to the first break with a 2-1 advantage. 15.46 on the clock, the Tre Krone broke out of defence when Fasth made a great save and rebounded the puck well down the ice to Patrik Berglund who surprised Endras with a quick shot through the five hole. 2-1 Sweden at the end of the first period.

Sweden started the second period much stronger and took the game to Germany. Their efforts were rewarded when Robert Nilsson passed to Persson who was driving the net. Persson lost control of the puck while trying to shift to his backhand for a shot. The move fooled Endras and the puck trickled through the five hole at 24.30 for 3-1.

On 28.10, Sweden all but finished the game with a fourth goal. Loui Eriksson was first to a rebound of Rundblad’s shot and backhanded past Endras for 4-1. At this point, although all looked lost for Germany, they continued the fight and with 1.16 remaining in the period, Michael Wolf scored off of a Rankel feed, beating fast down low to make it 4-2. This gave Germany some momentum and they finished the period looking the more likely to score.

Again, it was Sweden who started a period the stronger and all hope was extinguished from Germany on 48.54 as Martin Thornberg scored his second of the night, chasing down a rebound and beating Endras with a wrister from close in. Germany lost a bit of discipline after this goal, more out of frustration than anything else and took three minor penalties in quick succession in the last 10 minutes. Sweden were not really interested in adding to the score and ran out the clock for a comfortable 5-2 victory.

Sweden will now meet the in form Czech Republic on Friday afternoon in the first of the semi finals.

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World Championships 2011 - Quarter Finals - Day 1


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