Hockey World Championship match – quarter-final: Czech Republic – USA, May 25, 2023, Tampere. Players of the Czech Republic after a lost match.
Prague – According to the former coach of the national team, Josef Jandač, the hockey team's effort and fighting spirit cannot be denied. But as he stated in an interview for ČTK, he lacked more balanced performances. According to him, the team was struggling with major fluctuations in the game, and the situation was not helped at all by a number of injuries to its key figures. That is also why Jandač believes that the quarter-finals this time was the corresponding maximum that coach Kari Jalonen's selection could reach.
Photo gallery: Hockey World Cup 2023
The chance to win another medal after last year's bronze was taken right from the edge of the playoffs. Thursday's 0-3 loss to the USA meant 8th overall and a flight home. “When we look back at the whole tournament, it didn't turn out well. We all know that, I'm not saying anything new. The team worked hard, you can't deny that. We beat the teams we had to, but we didn't lose a single point against the strongest teams . I think the boys did what they could, but that quarterfinal was the ceiling for the team this year,” said Jandač.
However, according to the fifty-four-year-old coach, objective reasons must be taken into account when evaluating. “I think there were two main things with that team. First, not many NHL players signed up for it this year. And then there's the other thing – the team was kind of put together for the championship, but there were a lot of health problems during the tournament. Some small scratches to that of course they belong, but there were also the big ones that completely knocked the players out of the game,” reminded Jandač.
“Sedlák and Chytil were soon dropped from the lineup, injury limited Smejkal, Červenka was dropped in the preparation just before the tournament. Then also Černoch, I don't know how he was doing exactly. The same with Chlapík, which must be known in the composition of a team with so many hard workers , because it was these players who were supposed to take care of the productivity. Only Kubalík and Červenka scored the goals. The other boys fought a lot, but they are simply not the ones who are expected to contribute a lot of points,” Jandač added.
However, he had major reservations in one respect. And this is completely in line with the evaluation of the team's performances at the championship presented by captain Roman Červenka. “I was surprised that we had successful passages when we proved that we can play with those strong teams, but we did not manage to maintain that performance for a long time, not even in a single game. This is a little incomprehensible to me – these two faces of the team, ” said Jandač.
He also recalled a few of the most significant outages. “Perhaps the match against the Slovenians. These matches, when you have to get the 'obligatory' points, are not easy. But the performance there was tragic for half the match. But then suddenly we are able to switch to a completely different level. The same against Canada, we were not there in the first period on the ice, then it was good in the second. Similarly against the Swiss, who were the co-favorites of the tournament. The performance was often diametrically different even within one match. We showed good passages in which we could match those opponents, other times the performance was completely down,” pondered Jandač.
In the quarter-finals, according to him, the Americans only confirmed their strength, which they already indicated during the basic group, in which they won all seven matches. “It can be said that the Americans have a young team… But they also have really great quality. And they beat us, they are playing excellently,” praised Jandač.
He admitted that it is not easy to face overseas opponents. “The US and Canadian teams are in the semi-finals by chance. The NHL is still ahead of Europe, especially in terms of speed and skill. No league in Europe can match that. And then when we have a team composed mostly of players from Europe, it is difficult for them to balance, when they don't encounter such hockey during the season,” believes Jandač.
“The Finns had certain results with the 'Jalohokej', as it is called. You play for a small number of goals, it is very tactically led and the Finns have been winning with it recently. I think that a few teams in the extra league are copying it quite a lot, and Třinec wins titles. We can probably agree that he certainly doesn't look at it so well, but even if it hurts the eye, the end justifies the means,” added Jandač.
However, they do not hide the fact that this style of play he is not close to him. “I'm quite happy that the Finns were eliminated this year and that it might go down in hockey history. But it's all connected to the conditions and circumstances under which the game is played. Already at the World Cup, I called for the size of the field to be unified, because even this of course has a certain effect on the game. There was talk that it would be the same everywhere worldwide, but when it will actually happen, or at what stage it is now, I don't know,” Jandač recalled.
” But I'm glad that up-and-down hockey is bringing results to the teams. The Swiss played excellently, even though they couldn't bear the weight of the favorites in the quarter-finals against Germany. And in the semi-finals are the USA and Canada. I think that's proof that hockey is not stagnant . The truth lies on the ice – the hard work will show. This year, I finally think that he won all-around aggressive and skating hockey,” said Jandač.