Thursday, January 1, 2009

Czech Republic will face Russia

The Czechs will take on Russia in the first January 2 quarterfinal. The Russians finished second in Group B after losing to Sweden today, 5-0. The game is a rematch of last year’s quarterfinal game, which Russia won 4-1. The Czechs have not made it past the quarterfinals since 2005, when they earned a bronze medal.

The game featured a few tournament firsts. The Czechs scored the first penalty shot goal of this year’s championship when Roman Szturc scored the 2-0 tally 5:48 into the game. Less than two minutes later came the first Kazakh goal of the championship. Oleg Onichshenko’s goal sent up a hearty cheer from the impressive crowd (announced at 17,664 at Scotiabank Place) and cut the Czech lead in half.

But the rejoicing was short-lived as the Czechs put in three goals in the next five minutes to pull ahead 5-1. Vladimir Ruzicka scored two of the three tallies and then assisted on the 6-1 power-play goal with 4:09 left in the opening stanza.

The Czechs continued to roll in the second period, putting in another four goals. Jan Kana scored a natural hat trick in the period, scoring three of the four goals. He would finish the game with four goals. The Czechs also switched goaltender Tomas Vosvrda for Dominik Furch in what was presumably a predetermined swap.

The third period featured only one goal, which surprisingly came from Kazakhstan while shorthanded. Konstantin Savenkov scored the marker with 8:52 left to bring the final score to 10-2.

Kazakhstan, which was out-scored 46-2 in its four preliminary round games, will have its hands full in the relegation round. It enters the group with zero points and will face Finland and Latvia. The bottom two teams in the four-team round will be relegated to Division I. Kazakhstan’s 9-0 loss against Germany counts in the round-robin standings.

(Nathan also is a writer for Maineiacs Post to Post and the Maine Hockey Journal. He can be reached at

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