With both the Czech Republic and Switzerland already punching their tickets to the quarterfinals, it may have been easy to label this game as “meaningless” before puck drop.
“It was a tough game,” Czech captain Jakub Voracek told IIHF reporter Andrew Podnieks. “It shows how good of a team Switzerland is. We stuck with it. We scored a big third-period goal and won in the shootout. It’s very important for us for the playoffs. Every game we came from behind. It’s good news for us.”
While the game-winning shootout goal for the Czech Republic by Michal Vondkra may be the final highlight, it should serve as a gateway to a great game played by both netminders. Swiss goalie Reto Berra stopped 27 of 29 shots with a .931 save-percentage while the Czech’s Ondrej Pavelec stopped 26 of 27 shots with a .963 save-percentage.
In one of the more defensively entertaining games of the tournament, Berra and Pavelec fought of many great chances around their respective creases. Perhaps Czech defensman Michal Jordan even earns the title for “save of the game” with his blocked shot in front of a wide open net on a second period penalty kill to keep the Czech Republic in the game.
With under 10 minutes left in the third period, Martin Zatovic blasted home a one-timer from a beautiful Jan Kovar feed to tie the game at one. The late goal left the Swiss stunned after controlling much of the game and forced a scoreless overtime.
Kevin Fiala and Jakub Voracek scored first in the shootout for their respective teams, but Ondrej Pavelec outlasted Reto Berra in net with Michal Vondrka scoring the dagger, five-hole no less, in the third round of the shootout to give the Czech Republic the victory.
Perhaps the most competitive game for the Czech Republic since their 3-6 loss to Canada, Tomas Hertl thinks there is room for improvement before his club’s quarterfinal matchup against Finland.
“I think in both the defensive zone and offensive zone we could be stronger,” Hertl told IIHF reporter Andrew Podnieks.
The Czechs will need to play a nearly perfect game to defeat a Finnish team that has only allowed eight goals in the preliminary round.
The Czech Republic face Finland in the quarterfinals Thursday in front of their hometown crowd in Prague.