The Czech Republic defeated Switzerland 4-3 at the World Junior Hockey Championship in Russia this morning to finish the tournament in 5th place. Although the result is an improvement over the 7th place finish that the Czechs achieved at the Juniors in 2012, it is still far removed from the ambitious standing Czech officials have openly discussed achieving. The Czech Republic dreamed of reclaiming the success it achieved in 2000 and 2001 when the country put together back-to-back Championships in 2000 and 2001.
Since that time the Czechs have finished no better than third and had to face the Relegation Round in 2010 and 2011. This year the Czechs avoided that fate but lost 7-0 to the United States in the quarterfinal and were forced to play Switzerland. Switzerland also made it to the quarterfinal but lost to Russia 4-3. The difference for the Swiss is that no one in Swiss management is talking in dreamy tones about contending for a medal at the Juniors. Steady progress suits the Swiss just fine.
In the meanwhile, the Swiss must face the disappointment of losing this particular game to the Czechs. The Swiss played close games several times in the tournament and a bounce or two here and there could have vaulted the team even higher up in the standings than the 6th place standing it achieved. They scored the first goal of the game against the Czechs with a short-handed goal from Lukas Sieber but the Czechs recovered from this blunder by taking a 2-1 lead after goals from Dmitrij Jaškin and Tomáš Hyka. The two goals put an end to the series of penalties that marred most of the period. In all, the Czechs and Swiss committed 11 infractions during the middle period, with Jaškin’s goal coming on the power play.
After the Czechs took the lead, Switzerland swiftly replied with a goal by Sven Andrighetto to tie the game back up at two just 1:17 after Hyka’s goal. However the Czechs quickly retook the lead by ending the period with a goal by Martin Frk just 14 seconds after Andrighetto’s equalizer. Then midway through the third period, Tomáš Hertl scored a power play goal to put the Czechs up 4-2. Switzerland called time-out 13 seconds later and then scored a power play goal of their own with a minute and two seconds left in the game when Andrighetto scored his second goal of the night. The Swiss played the rest of the night without goaltender Luca Boltshauser but the Czechs held on to their lead and won the match 4-3.
Next up at the World Juniors is the Bronze Medal match between Canada and Russia at 2 am Mountain Time and the Gold Medal match between Sweden and the United States at 6 am Mountain Time. Both games are live on TSN. After that the 2014 World Junior Hockey Championship resumes in Malmö, Sweden on December 26th, 2013- January 5th, 2014. Potential victory at that tournament will give the Czech Republic something to dream about for the next year.
 An accomplishment the team achieved in 2005 at the tournament in Grand Forks, North Dakota.
 The Swiss finished in 8th place last year in Alberta.