Ice hockey. Illustrative photo.
Porrentruy (Switzerland) – The Czech national ice hockey team will try to surprise the highly favored USA team in the quarterfinals on Thursday and advance to the semifinals of the U18 World Championship. However, coach Jakub Petr's men will go into the match as outsiders. So far, they have only managed to beat Germany in the tournament, while the Americans, on the other hand, dominated Group B with a record of four wins and an impressive score of 37:6.
“After the match, I told the boys that whoever doesn't believe that we can succeed should eat, rest and go home with their parents,” coach Petr told reporters after Tuesday's match, in which the Czech Republic lost 3:8 to Canada and took fourth place in group A.
“We know what the reality is. Together with the Swedes, America is the total favorite of the entire World Cup, but a month and a half ago we played with the Americans in Rauma. We played with them here before the World Cup and the pace is very similar,” pointed out Petr this year's two Czech-American fights in this age category.
However, the results of the matches do not give the Czech team much chance of success. They lost 1:9 at the February tournament in Finland, 2:9 before the championship. In addition, the Czechs have a significantly negative balance with the USA at the World Round of 18. Since 1999, when the championship of this age category has been held, they have managed to beat it only in 2001 and 2002. After that, they scored seventeen defeats, two of them last year. They lost 2:6 in the basic group, 1:6 in the semi-final.
“The biggest favorite is waiting for us and we have nothing to lose. Even if nobody believes in us, I think there is still a chance. When we will say something about it and we will stick to what we have, so we can think about a better result,” believes striker Eduard Šalé, who played both last year's matches. “We have to catch up at the beginning, play what we have set and then it will unfold,” added the team's best scorer with four goals.
The quarter-final match will take place in Basel from 12:30.