Czech Republic – Denmark (1-1, 6-2, 1-1)
ZNOJMO – The host Czechs got off to a flying start in their opening game of the 2012 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 World Championship, scoring six goals in the second period on their way to an 8-4 win over Denmark.
Vojtech Tomecek had three assists and several Czech players found the back of the net as the team put on an offensive display in front of their supporters in Znojmo.
Similar to their opening game against Canada, Denmark had a strong outing in the first period, but broke down defensively as the game wore on. An early go-ahead goal on the power play from Eustanthios Soumelidis in the second period was followed up by three more quick scores by the Czechs, who controlled the puck with ease in the Danish zone and continually harassed goaltender Matthias Andersen.
The Czechs’ fifth score finally woke up the Danish team, as Oliver Bjorkstrand and Kristoffer Lauridsen answered back with goals two minutes apart to help slim down the deficit. But another defensive miscue led to yet another Czech goal, and the hosts added another before the end of the frame to take a comfortable 7-3 lead into the third period.
“After the first period, we said in the locker room that we needed to be better and to start skating and be more physical," said Czech captain Dominik Volek, who scored the first goal of the game. “We felt some pressure being on home ice with friends and family watching, and it was good to go out and get the win.”
The loss was a tough one for Denmark, which managed to stay in the game early on but couldn’t keep up with the Czech forwards through the rest of the game. Andersen ended up facing over 40 shots on net, while his teammates were unable to put nearly as much pressure in the Czech zone.
In the first period, the Czechs were denied on a great chance early when Andersen denied forward Jakub Vrana on a breakaway. But the home team still managed to strike first a few minutes later when Mads Larsen was sent to the box for hooking. Adam Chlapik got the puck in the Danish zone and made a cross ice pass to Vojtech Tomecek, who found Volek in front of the net for the power play goal.
Denmark knotted up the score at 1-1 when Bjorkstrand took advantage of some heavy traffic in from of Marek Langhammer’s net to slip the puck past the Czech goaltender. But even with a decent outing in the third period, the team could not do enough to overcome the six Czech goals in the second.
“We played two good periods, but the second period was terrible for us,” said Denmark head coach Morten Hagen. “We came out of the first period with the shots even and we were feeling pretty good, it’s a tough loss to take but you can’t fall off on your level of play against a team like this.”
The Czechs will face a tougher assignment Saturday in Breclav when they take on the defending champions United States. At 0-2 and also facing the U.S. later in the weekend, Denmark looks to be headed to the relegation round.
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