WEIDEN – 17-year-old Klara Chmelova was the shining star, scoring one and assisting two as Czech Republic stormed into a 3-0 first frame lead after 9:03 in the opening game of the Women's Final Olympic Qualification Group D held in Weiden Germany.
Winning the game 5-1, Czech head coach Karel Manhart can look back at an inspring performance against the Kazakhs: "We are happy with the result. Perhaps we expected it to be a bit tougher, but we got a very good start in the game, and then once the game calmed down we controlled it until the end," he said.
As the snowfall flurried outside the Weiden Arena in eastern Bavaria, a red whirlwind of Czech skaters piled up the pressure against the Kazakhstan goal during a one-sided first period. Katerina Mrazova broke the deadlock 3:23 into the game following a shot from Petra Herzigova after Kazakhstans' goalie Daria Obydennova had lost her stick in the traffic in front of goal.
The Czech lead was doubled after 7:38 when Aneta Ledlova tapped home an easy finish in front of goal after fine work by Chmelova. Shortly after when the opportunity arose for Kazakhstan to get back into the game on the power-play, Lucie Manhartova instead broke clear on the right-hand side to feed Chmelova inside the slot for the Czech's to short-handedly go three goals up.
Kazakhstan, who arrived to Weiden ahead of the Czech Republic in the IIHF Women’s World Ranking, tried by the help of hard graft to work themselves into the game in the second period. A couple of Czech penalty calls gave the Kazakhs hope, but it was at 36:27, once the Czechs were playing at full strenght, that a fine Tatyana Koroleva pulled back a goal to give Kazakhstan some hope.
But with 1:19 left of the period, Denisa Krzova delighted the Czech travelling support, who had made the short trek across the border, to give their support to a hockey nation that is moving on up in the world of women's hockey.
Winning the shots in the final period with 21-5, the Czechs created many further chances to increase their lead, but had to settle for one additional goal when Alena Polenska hit the back of the net after a delightful diagonal pass by Petra Herzigova to make it 5-1. It meant game over for the Central Asian nation who now have to look for improvements ahead to their second clash against China who awaits tomorrow.
"We came here to win all our games, and it was a good experience for us. Now we have to start to play better in the next games," said a considerable downbeat Zarina Tukhtieva, forward of Kazakhstan.
For the Czechs, pre-tournament favourite Germany awaits tomorrow: "It's a new game, and we have to focus on your defence, control the puck and shoot from every angle as we try to score more goals than Germany," said head coach Manhart.