SASKATOON – The Czech Republic beat Slovakia 5-2 to win the Relegation Round and claim seventh place in the final ranking. Jan Kovar scored a hat trick after a slow start. Also on Monday, Latvia won its first game against Austria, 6-4, in a clash between the relegated teams and finishes in ninth place.
Both the Czechs and the Slovaks were already safe after their wins against Austria and Latvia, which were both relegated before the last day of Relegation Round play. The latter two will be replaced by Germany and Norway in the 2011 World U20 Championship in Buffalo, USA.
Czech Republic vs. Slovakia 5-2 (1-1, 3-1, 1-0)
The Czech Republic and Slovakia neutralized each other for most of the game. The Czechs held a 33-27 edge in shots on goal.
Although Slovakia’s Radoslav Illo gave his team the lead at 8:48 after a pass from behind the net from Martin Bakos, that only lasted for 67 seconds.
The Czechs had their first power play soon after the faceoff, and Vladimir Roth got the equalizer with a shot from the blueline.
The Czechs gained the lead for the first time when Jan Kovar scored at 30:19, and they had several good scoring chances during two power plays. But when Slovakia’s Samuel Mlynarovic came back from the penalty box and was left alone in front of the net, he tied it up again, converting a pass from Andrej Stastny at 36:08.
However, the Czechs had another man-advantage just half-a-minute later and it took Kovar just nine seconds to score his second goal and regain the lead.
Ninety seconds later, when the Slovak defence seemed as if it had taken a timeout, Tomas Kubalik had all the time and space he needed to beat Slovak goalkeeper Tomas Halasz for the 4-2 goal at 38:12.
Slovakia coach Stefan Mikes signaled his disappointment by immediately replacing Halasz with Marek Ciliak. That move at least prevented any more goals from being scored on the Slovaks for a while, but at 55:44 Kovar completed his hat trick for the 5-2 Czech victory.
Austria vs. Latvia 4-6 (1-4, 2-0, 1-2)
Latvia earned its first victory in its sixth and last game in this year’s World U20 Championship. The maroon-coloured team beat Austria 6-4 in a game with 43 shots for each team.
Austria remains winless in three World U20 Championships. Both teams were already relegated before the puck dropped on Monday.
It was a match between two completely different styles. The Latvian players entertained the fans with their individual skills, while the Austrians had better team play and more discipline.
Roberts Bukarts, a KHL regular for Dinamo Riga, opened the scoring for Latvia with a shot from the blueline during a power play at 6:40. But Konstantin Komarek tied things up one minute later, again on the power play, with Austria’s second shot on goal.
The Latvians reacted with some rushes and nice moves around the cage of Austria goalie Lorenz Hirn. Ronalds Cinks hit the post around the 11-minute mark. Then three Latvian goals within less than three minutes followed.
Gunars Skvorcovs regained the lead at 12:42 after a cross-crease pass in front of the net from Juris Upitis. Roberts Mazins made it 3-1 just 17 seconds later, and Bukarts scored his second goal at 14:10.
Latvia clearly outplayed the Austrians in the first period before the Balts ran into penalty trouble. They allowed Austria two 5-on-3 power plays at the end of the first period and the beginning of the second period.
Andreas Kristler’s power-play goal at 21:08 cut the lead. At 24:36, when the Latvians couldn’t get the puck away from the goal line, Komarek had the fastest reaction and scored his second goal of the day with the two-man advantage.
The Latvians sealed the win in the third period when Miks Indrasis scored a power-play goal at 48:55. At 51:16, again during a man-advantage, Indrasis and Roberts Mazins skated alone towards Hirn, with Mazins scoring the 6-3 goal on a pass from Indrasis.
Austrian defenceman Markus Unterweger scored the last goal of the game at 53:28 during a 4-on-3 power play.