International Ice Hockey Federation

Czechs edge Norway in OT

Czechs edge Norway in OT

Kovar breaks scoreless tie versus heroic Haugen

Published 12.05.2017 12:35 GMT+2 | Author Lucas Aykroyd
Czechs edge Norway in OT
PARIS, FRANCE - MAY 11: Czech Republic's Tomas Plekanec #14 stickhandler the puck while Norway's Lars Haugen #30 looks on during preliminary round action at the 2017 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship. (Photo by Matt Zambonin/HHOF-IIHF Images)
Jan Kovar got the overtime winner as the Czechs eked out a 1-0 victory over Norway. Goalie Lars Haugen couldn't save the underdogs, who were outshot 31-10.

On an odd-man rush, David Pastrnak centered the puck from behind the goal line to Kovar, who slid it past Haugen's right pad at 1:25. Netminder Pavel Francouz earned his first career World Championship shutout between the Czech pipes.

"It's always hard for the boys playing a team like that when you have chances and can't score," Francouz said. "Norway played good defence. They played hard and their goalie played well."

It’s been seven years since the Czechs last won gold at this tournament and five years since they last medaled with a bronze medal. This wasn't textbook offensive production, but patience paid off, and at least things are on track for another quarter-final berth with a third straight win.

"It's hockey," said Czech captain Jakub Voracek. "You expect games like that are going to happen sometimes. They stuck with their game for 60 minutes. It wasn't fancy but it worked. We have to take the win and the two points and start focusing on the next game."

Still, it was unusual that the Czechs had so much difficulty scoring on Thursday with a roster that includes Jan Kovar (63 KHL points with Magnitogorsk), Pastrnak (70 points with Boston), and Voracek (61 NHL points with Philadelphia this season). Skill, speed, strength -- the Czechs had the edge in every department.

Norway had dreams of pulling off an upset here. Its only previous win over the Czechs was 3-2 on 11 May, 2010. (In that game in Mannheim, Germany, two Jaromir Jagr goals weren’t enough to save his team – the eventual gold medalists – as the Norwegians got 44 saves from Pal Grotnes and the third-period winner from Anders Bastiansen.)

At least the Norwegians can be happy about another valuable Group B point. They played hard and showed good positional awareness.

"You have to play defensively when you play a team as good as they are," said Bastiansen. "I think we played well and had some chances to win the game. It's good that we're disappointed when we lose to them."

Haugen sparkled in the first period as the Czechs had an 12-3 edge in shots on goal but couldn’t capitalize on two man advantages. In the second, the Norwegians had a brief 5-on-3 and called their timeout to strategize. The Olimb brothers came closest on the ensuing 5-on-4 when Mathis fed Ken Andre from behind the net, but Francouz made a dazzling glove save.

With a minute left in the middle frame, Voracek sent a cross-ice pass to Tomas Plekanec, but Haugen robbed him with his right pad. Disgustedly, Plekanec ripped the tape off his stick blade on the bench when the siren ended the period.

"We had some chances, but we didn't create as many as we have in the past," said Voracek. "We didn't create anything out of the corners. We didn't do much off the rush. You have to give them credit."

The Norwegians kept defending tenaciously in the third, and nearly went ahead with four and a half minutes when Sondre Olden came down on a 2-on-1 and zipped a laser into Francouz's glove.

Norway’s tournament has been up-and-down, beating France 3-2, losing 3-0 to Switzerland, and beating Slovenia 5-1 prior to this outing. It’s a difficult road ahead with games against Canada and Finland looming.

With the result, the Czech Republic’s all-time World Championship versus Norway improved to/fell to 10 wins, two ties, and one loss.


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