World Hockey Championship Group B match: Czech Republic – Canada, May 23, 2023, Riga. From left, video coach Fredrik Norrena, Daniel Voženílek from the Czech Republic, Ondřej Beránek from the Czech Republic, Czech coach Kari Jalonen and Radim Zohorna from the Czech Republic.
Riga – After the 1:3 defeat by Canada, it was immediately clear that the Finnish coach of the Czech hockey players, Kari Jalonen, will not fight with the selection of his native country in the quarter-finals of the World Championship in Tampere. He had to wait for the result of the match between Latvia and Switzerland, and an hour before midnight he and his team learned that they would be going to Finland for a duel with the United States of America. According to him, the uncertainty of whether the national team would stay in Riga or not was mainly unpleasant for the implementation team.
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“It's not as bad for us as it is for the custodians. They have to be prepared in case we have to travel. We'll just pack our stuff. But they'll have a lot. But we already have a plan to do that. Players they know the exact plan. So we will fly to Tampere at ten o'clock,” Jalonen told reporters. Training in the Nokia Arena, where the Czechs won bronze last year, is scheduled for 17:00 Finnish time (16:00 CET).
“It was interesting to watch the last group game of Latvia against Switzerland, because until the last moment it was not clear who we would play in the quarter-finals. In the end it will be the United States of America, which is a very good team that has not lost in the tournament. Tomorrow morning we will travel to Tampere, where we know that very well from last year, and we will prepare as best we can for the elimination part,” said Jalonen, whose team beat the Americans 1:0 in the basic group last year in Tampere and then 8:4 in the duel for 3rd place.
His team goes to the quarterfinals after two defeats against Switzerland 2:4 and Canada 1:3. “The first period was good. The second period was very good. We started to play good hockey. We had a lot of chances, although we only scored once. I felt that in the third period we ran out of energy a little bit. It wasn't like the first period,” he said Jalonen for the match with Canada.
In the final power play, the Czechs felt the damage when, after striker Jiří Černoch touched the puck while being signaled for offside, the referees did not stop the game and Lawson Crouse completed the result into an empty net. “Everyone makes mistakes. The supervisor has already sent a message to our coaches that (the referees) made a mistake. That it should have been offside and they should have blown the whistle. At that level, when a mistake is made… It shouldn't happen,” said Jalonen.
In the third period, forward Michael Špaček suffered a bloody scar on his face after being hit by a high stick from Brad Hunt, but referees Andris Ansons and Miroslav Štolc did not rule it out. “As for the high stick on Špaček, when you follow the pass with the stick, it's not a foul if the stick hits the face. That's the way it is. I haven't watched the video yet,” said Jalonen.
Liked with the performance of the third attack Martin Kaut, Radim Zohorna and Jiří Smejkal. “They played very well. The first line is good. The second line is good. And now we have to think a little about the fourth,” said Jalonen, who included Radan Lence, Michael Špaček and Daniel Voženílek in the fourth formation. Filip Chlapík did not get into the game from the position of the thirteenth attacker, and David Tomášek remained in the stands.
Jalonen hopes that goals will come from other attackers besides the elite formation Dominik Kubalík, Vladimír Sobotka and Roman Červenka. “We need goals from others. But we have to play well defensively. It's a process. Everyone knows we had injuries. New players came in. We changed lines almost every game. Last year we did it differently. Because the lines were given. Now we have to change . It's nice that we now have three good centers. Sobotka, Černoch and Zohorna,” he added.
He knows that the key will be to fine-tune the team's performance for Thursday. “It will be about a few goals. But we have to prepare. And rest a bit. Because the last four days and three matches were really difficult. We have to get our energy back. And be ready,” stated Jalonen. If the Czechs were to beat Canada today, they would face home Finland in Tampere. Jalonen, however, did not consider a possible fight with the national team of his native country, which he coached from 2014 to 2016 and led it to win silver at the World Championships in Moscow and St. Petersburg seven years ago. “This is beyond me,” he added.