International Ice Hockey Federation

Czechs trounce Slovenia

Czechs trounce Slovenia

Fourth straight win for CZE, SLO misses QF

Published 12.05.2017 18:52 GMT+2 | Author Lucas Aykroyd
Czechs trounce Slovenia
PARIS, FRANCE - MAY 12: Slovenia's Gasper Kroselj #32 and Mitja Robar #51 look on while team Czech Republic players celebrate with Roman Horak #51 after scoring during preliminary round action at the 2017 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship. (Photo by Matt Zambonin/HHOF-IIHF Images)
Roman Horak led the way with two goals as the Czechs beat Slovenia 5-1 on Friday. It’s four straight wins for the Czechs and no quarter-finals for Slovenia.

Roman Cervenka chipped in a goal and an assist, and Michal Repik and Michal Kempny also scored for the canny Czechs, who are hunting for their first medal since 2012's bronze. Jan Kovar added a pair of assists.

Coach Josef Jandac's crew fell 4-1 to Canada to start the tournament, but have found a path to victory in every game since then. This was a cool display of skill, focus, and execution.

"We knew if we skated, we'd be fine," said Czech captain Jakub Voracek. "We skated well today all game, and that's why we won. It could have been 10-2 today easily."

Miha Verlic replied for Slovenia, which was outshot 37-15.

Since rallying to secure a point in their tournament opener, a 5-4 overtime loss to Switzerland, the Slovenes have sagged with four lopsided regulation defeats in Group B.

Newly promoted Slovenia now faces a must-win game versus Belarus on Saturday in the battle against relegation. In IIHF World Championship history, the Slovenes have only spent two consecutive years in the elite division once (2005, 2006). They have a tiny talent pool with 141 registered male players.

At 2:12, Repik opened the scoring. Kroselj stopped Roman Cervenka’s initial shot, but Kovar grabbed the rebound and sent it over to Repik, who fired it into the open side.

"Against teams like these, they have to play defence, so when we scored early that opened it up for us," said Czech goalie Petr Mrazek. "Yesterday [in the 1-0 win over Norway], we couldn't get an early goal, so it was a better start today."

Near the midway mark of the first period, Repik thought he’d made it 2-0. But instead, it turned out that the second goal belonged to Horak, who’d been set up during the preceding power play by David Pastrnark and had zinged the puck off the net cam before the officials noticed. That goal occurred at 8:20, and time was added to the clock.

At 11:46, Horak whacked a rebound through Slovenian goalie Gaspar Kroselj’s pads to put the game out of reach at 3-0. Shots favored the Czechs 18-4 in the opening stanza.

"We got more traffic in front today," said Czech defenceman Radko Gudas. "Our forwards did a good job of that. They got some rebounds, made some plays around the net. I think the Slovenians didn't have an answer for that."

Kempny got the fourth Czech marker at 2:09 of the second period. He sent the puck cross-ice to Petr Vrana and then skated to the front of the net to convert Vrana’s deft backhand feed from behind the goal line.

Verlic cut the deficit to 4-1 at 4:04 of the third on a quick, close-range shot that beat Mrazek cleanly, but was video-reviewed. Just over three minutes later, Cervenka restored the four-goal lead with a nice breakaway tally on the backhand.

Despite missing the quarter-finals in Paris, the Slovenes have already qualified to participate in their second straight Olympic hockey tournament in South Korea in February. They finished a surprising seventh in their 2014 Winter Games debut in Sochi, Russia.

The Czechs will seek a fifth straight victory against host France on Saturday.

"Now we have to focus on France," said Voracek. "They played well against Canada, so it's going to be a tough game."


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