Illustrative photo – Match EHT Sweden – Czechia. In the picture from the left, Jan Kovář and his teammates celebrate a goal in Malmö, Sweden, on February 9, 2023.
Malmö (Sweden) – The Czech hockey players will have their second match at the Swedish Games in Malmö on Saturday. At noon, the two winning teams from the opening matches will face Finland, with whom they have not lost a single point in the season. The goal will be defended by Petr Kváča, the line-up will also include the recovered defender Vojtěch Mozík or the attack with Adam Musil, Oscar Flynn and Jan Bambula, who was ready in the role of the thirteenth striker on Thursday.
Photo gallery: Hockey national team 2022/23
While the Czechs defeated the home Swedes 2:1 in overtime on Thursday in a goal-poor match, the Finns had a dramatic shootout with the Swiss. The reigning world champions and Olympic champions were already losing 1:4 in Zurich, but they managed to turn the tide and celebrate a 6:5 victory after separate raids. In both duels of the season so far, the Czech hockey players had the upper hand: they won 5:2 at the Karjala tournament, and 3:2 at the Swiss Games.
“We have to be patient. You can expect excellent skating from the Finns, they have perfectly mastered the middle zone, but we mainly have to be strong in personal battles. Thirty and forty percent of the entire match – and these are statistics that do not lie – takes place around the goalposts. We have to be strong there and win those fights,” assistant head coach Libor Zábranský told reporters after today's afternoon training session.
Although the coaches were pleased with the winning entry into the tournament, like the players themselves, they saw room for improvement. “Hockey is a game of mistakes and you can't play without mistakes. But there's always room for improvement. We showed the guys the basics at the meeting this morning, but we want to stick to our game and what we've been working on all the time, because 80 percent of the topics concerns our game and the rest of the opponent,” declared Zábranský.
According to coach Kari Jalonen, the players were too tense in the second period of the duel against the Swedes. “There was some weakening, but sometimes we unnecessarily returned pucks back from those support points instead of simply getting them out. The guys tried to play the puck and we returned two or three substitutions unnecessarily, but that's hockey. We're on on the one hand, they are happy that they believe in each other, but some situations could have been solved better,” added Zábranský.
The northerners clearly outshot the national team, but according to the coaches, the game in the defensive zone as such is essential. “I mean, whether we let the opponent into the area in front of the goal and into the slot, the boys keep it there perfectly. If the opponent drives around the goalpost and then shoots from a distance, he doesn't even perceive it as being under pressure. It's about how much the opponent creates great chances, and the Swedes didn't have that many,” Zábranský reminded.
“We only had two training sessions in Prague, so we tried to play simply. However, there are definitely things we can improve. We will definitely prepare well for the Finns, so that the performance will be a little better again,” assured Jalonen.
< p>The coaches will change the lineup only with regard to the use of other players who did not participate in the duel with the Swedes. “Adam Musil's attack will go into play, Vojta Mozík and Petr Kváča will also be in goal, but we will reveal more about the line-up as usual on the day of the match,” reported Zábranský apologetically. since last week, I missed the match, but then I played another one on Saturday, which was probably a bad decision, because it knocked me down again. But now I'm fine, so hopefully it will only be good,” defender Mozík assured.
It is not yet certain which of the goalkeepers will start against the Swiss on Sunday. “In this direction, we will go match by match. Aleš (Stezka) caught excellently yesterday and gave us a chance to win. I think Petr will do the same. Then we will decide what to do next for the last match,” added Zábranský.