Czech ice hockey player Ondřej Beránek (center) in a duel with Finnish players Valtteri Kemilainen (left) and Juha Jääska at the Swedish Ice Hockey Games in Malmö on February 11, 2023.
Malmö (Sweden) – A very unsuccessful start to the second period, during which the Finns jumped from 2:0 to 4:0 by the end of the 24th minute, definitively buried the hopes of the Czech hockey players for a turnaround. They lost the second match at the Swedish Games by a heavy score of 1:6 and thus lost the chance to successfully defend last year's championship. Captain Jan Kovář admitted that after conceding goals, his team's game completely fell apart.
“We played the first fifteen minutes quite solidly, but we went to the locker room with a score of 2:0 to the Finns. We talked about it afterwards, tried to stay positive and build on the performance from the beginning of the match, but unfortunately right at the beginning of the second period we they scored three goals and our game completely collapsed,” Kovář said in an interview with journalists.
In the performance of coach Kari Jalonen's wards, it was already a big mess, almost nothing worked. “The whole thing broke for us when we got those goals. We stopped playing and always looked only at the one boy who played with the puck. Nobody really wanted it. But there are also matches like that,” Kovář pointed out.
“I don't know what it was. We just thought about it there, then it was bad. We were throwing pucks at each other, almost no shot went from stick to stick, then it was hard for us to follow up on a fairly good start. I just hope that it's a useful lesson for us, from which we'll take something and perform differently tomorrow,” the 32-year-old striker looked forward to making amends in Sunday's match, in which the Czechs will challenge Switzerland from 12 noon.
In the end, there wasn't much left for a record loss in the history of an independent Czech team. Exactly 11 years have passed today since the 0:7 defeat in Stockholm with the Finns. It was the center of the Swiss Zug who was with her at the time – as the only one from the current team.
“I remember it. That is, the result 0:7, not how the match went exactly. We know that the Finns are strong, which every team is here. And if we put this one to sleep, they will gain confidence. They also had some chances when they almost made fun of us. And once they got such a lead, it was difficult to follow up on our game,” admitted Kovář.
He couldn't explain the collapse for a while after the game. “We simply scored goals… Everyone was ready for the match, but when we scored those quick goals at the beginning of the second period, then it started to pay off. One tiny mistake after another and we didn't put it together,” reflected Kovář.
“De facto, it was over right at the beginning of the second period, then you just play to make it look something and not be a complete mess. We have some pride and it's a national team, we wanted to play the third period with honor. We tried, but confidence was lacking and it wasn't the performance we wanted it to be,” he added.
The Finns scored two more goals, but the Czechs also had chances, including two solo escapes. “But we have to be honest. We could have scored a goal in the first period and it could have looked different. I also had a good chance when I was alone between the circles… But we didn't score them and now we will eat it up. But we will prepare for tomorrow . We have a meeting planned for the evening, we will say something about it, and against the Swiss we have to go for it and win,” he emphasized.
In the duel against the Swedes, the Czech hockey players sent only 14 accurate shots on the opponent's goal, today only by three more. And in the second act of everything, only three. “We have a lot of fun overall. Even in those lines, we talk with the boys about what and how we want to play in those situations, we solve it. And we also talked about the shots. I think there weren't too many of them in the first game against the Swedes either , not now either. It's something we should work on and try to shoot more,” agreed Kovář.