International Ice Hockey Federation

Czechs get the W

Czechs get the W

Belarus falls to 0-2 after 6-1 loss

Published 06.05.2017 20:18 GMT+2 | Author Andrew Podnieks
Czechs get the W
PARIS, FRANCE - MAY 6: Czech Republic's Petr Vrana #20 (not shown) is congratulated by teammates after scoring against Belarus during preliminary round action at the 2017 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship. (Photo by Matt Zambonin/HHOF-IIHF Images)
Petr Vrana and Radko Gudas scored in the first to get the Czechs going en route to a convincing 6-1 win over Belarus.

The win came before 6,635 incredibly loud and enthusiastic, mostly-Czech fans and moves the Czechs to 1-1 while Belarus falls to 0-2. Belarus has yet to beat the Czechs in World Championship play going back to 1998, a skein of eight straight losses.

"I think we did a pretty good job on the defensive side of our game," Vrana said. "We were productive up front, too, except for a few moments where we played up and down hockey and gave them a couple of opportunities."

The Czechs outshot Belarus by the whopping margin of 45-7. Kevin Lalande was excellent in goal for Belarus before being replaced by Mikhail Karnaukhov with about ten minutes remaining. The game was close until early in the third when Belarus lost all composure and took a series of undisciplined penalties.

"We have no excuses," a beleaguered Lalande said after. "It’s frustrating. I don’t have any answers. The Czechs are a good team. They have a lot of skill and some good players who make you pay when you make mistakes. We can’t give them those opportunities. We have to play smart. We have to play in our system. If we don’t do that, it’s going to be 6-1 every night. Our guys better wake up and start playing the right way."

The Czechs got on the board first off a nice play. Michal Birner drove down the left wing and watched as Vrana headed for the net. Vrana was covered, but Birner made a perfect pass and Vrana got a stick on it, redirecting the puck past Kevin Lalande at 13:16.

"They’re big and strong, and they defend in the neutral zone pretty well," captain Jakub Voracek said. "We were kind of struggling in the first five or seven minutes. Then after Vrana scored that first goal, we settled down a little bit and started playing our game. We were controlling the game the rest of the way."

Indeed, four minutes later, the Czechs doubled their lead with a fortuitous score. Voracek was checked off the puck, but Gudas was there to blast a long shot on goal. It hit Alexander Kulakov in the slot and bounced crazily past Lalande.

Early in the second, though, Belarus got right back into it when Yevgeni Lisovets made a seeing-eye, cross-ice pass to Alexander Pavlovich, who wired a one-timer in at 1:13. It was just the second shot on goal all game for the team.

The goal awoke the Czechs, though, and they dominated much of the rest of the period. Jan Kovar hit the post, and Birner failed to score on a short-handed breakaway, but at 15:38 they restored their two-goal lead. Roman Cervenka made the pass to Roman Horak. He outwaited a defenceman and then Lalande before calmly roofing a shot. 

Belarus had a great chance to get back into the game when it had two early power plays in the third, but those chances went all for naught. The Czechs added to their lead later in the period with a man-advantage opportunity of their own. Radim Simek's point shot went all the way through at 7:26 to make it 4-1.

Two minutes later, the Czechs made it 5-1. David Pastrnak tried a Forsberg-style deke on a breakaway, stopped beautifully by Lalande, but the rebound came to an unguarded Voracek who fired it in the empty side at 9:37.

Kempny added a final goal off a hard wrister with just 16.7 seconds remaining.

Both teams have Sunday off. Belarus plays Canada in the early game on Monday, followed by the Czechs and Finns.

"It’ll be a tough game," Voracek said, looking ahead 48 hours. "They’re very good skaters. We’ve just got to be patient and not make mistakes, and hopefully we’re going to be good offensively again."


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