International Ice Hockey Federation

Kolar downs France

Kolar downs France

Czechs win wild battle for third

Published 20.05.2014 23:58 GMT+3 | Author Peter Westermark
Kolar downs France
MINSK, BELARUS - MAY 20: France's Antonin Manavian #4 and Czech Republic's Tomas Hertl #48 battle along the boards during preliminary round action at the 2014 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship. (Photo by Richard Wolowicz/HHOF-IIHF Images)
In the last game of Group A, the Czech Republic beat France in a wild contest that saw Jan Kolar score the game-winning 5-4 goal in overtime.

The Czech Republic will now face Team USA in the quarter-finals, while France takes on Russia.

"With the U.S., maybe it’s a better start off to the playoffs than the Russians, with Malkin, Ovechkin, and these big stars," said Ondrej Nemec of the Czech Republic. "We didn’t want to meet Russia in the quarter-finals. With Malkin and Ovechkin, it’ll be a really tough game for France."

Going into the game, France and the Czech Republic had faced each other in IIHF World Championship play five times since 1993, with the Czechs winning by at least a three-goal margin each time. Tonight, it was an entirely different story.

France showed no signs of being content to have just qualified for the first quarter-finals in 19 years as they scored three goals in the first period, before surrendering four straight to the Czechs.

But even though Antoine Roussel tied the game at 4-4 early in the third, it was not enough as Kolar scored the game-winner for the Czechs in overtime, after a rebound on a Vladimir Sobotka shot.

"We’re tired and disappointed," stated Roussel. "We started pretty well and then they took over in the second period. Right now, we’re a little bit tired. We just have to relax and focus on ourselves, get some rest, and enjoy the moment."

Jiri Sekac, Jaromir Jagr, Martin Zatovic and Sobotka had the other goals.

For France, Julien Desroisers had two goals, while Laurent Meunier and Antoine Roussel had one each.

"We had a good first period, but the Czechs had more chances than us," offered France's Meunier. "Afterwards, we gave them too much space, and we weren’t on the man enough. In the third, I think we were better and we were more on the man. Things evened out."

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After an uneventful start to the game, that showed no sign of what would follow, France took the lead when Julien Desrosiers deflected a shot from the point by Jonathan Janil past Salak to give France the lead after seven minutes.

In the next shift, the Czechs roared back and Jaromir Jagr had a great chance from in close, but Florian Hardy, who got the start in the French net, made the stop. Five minutes later, Roman Cervenka picked up a missed pass from the French and raced in on a breakaway, but once again Hardy made the save.

Czech Republic goaltender Alexander Salak was called for tripping with three minutes left and France put pressure on the Czech net on their third power play of the night. Forty-six seconds into the man advantage, Desrosiers got his second of the game after a nice pass from Teddy da Costa that cut through the Czech box.

Thirty-four seconds later, the Czechs were in for their next chock. France's captain Laurent Meunier, standing in the high slot, a one-timed slap shot past Salak for France’s third goal of the game. Damien Raux had the assist.

With 43 seconds remaining in the first, the Czechs got on the board. The puck trickled loose after a face off in the French zone and Vladmir Sobotka got hold of it, neatly placing it into the net on Hardy’s stick hand side to make it 1-3 heading into the third.

"We had a really bad start to the game. We were losing 3-0. We felt terrible," said Ondrej Nemec. "It was really important to get that first goal, because we wanted to get one before the end of the first period. After that, I think we started to play better and better. At the beginning of the second period, we were a better team than France."

The Czech comeback continued 4:30 into the second, when Jiri Sekac took the puck in his own zone, found some speed and skated past defender Florian Chakiachvili before putting a backhanded shot past Hardy to cut the French lead to one.

Nine minutes in, France was called for their fourth straight minor penalty. They withstood the pressure during the Czech power play, but in the next shift the game was tied at 3-3 when Michal Jordan’s shot from the point deflected off Jaromir Jagr in front and into the net, mirroring France’s first tally of the night.

Just 90 seconds later, the Czechs took the lead for the first time. Once again, the Czechs cycled the puck down low, and while Tomas Rolinek’s wrap-around attempt was stopped by Hardy, he could not stop Martin Zatovic from scoring as he lost sight of the puck, laying just behind his left pad.

With less than four minutes remaining, the Czechs were awarded a penalty shot, but Hardy stopped Jaromir Jagr’s attempt.

Early in the third, the drama continued as France tied it up with their second power play goal of the night. Antoine Roussel scored on a backhand after a nice give-and-go with Damien Fleury to make it 4-4.

The team then traded chances, with both teams charging up ice full speed on their transitions. Jiri Hudler had one of the best chances for the Czechs, in alone on Hardy with twelve minutes left.

The teams also traded chances with the man advantage midway through, without any change to the score line.

Eventually, the game was sent to overtime. And there, the Czechs put on the pressure as Jan Kolar found the net to end the game.

""In the last period, we kind of raised our game," said Roussel. "I got a pretty good shot in overtime too. It’s kind of disappointing. We were right there, but that’s hockey. You win some, you lose  some. We’ve been pretty lucky so far, so that’s good."


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