In their fourth game, the Czech’s finally got their first win in regulation time at the 2014 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship.
Jiri Sekac and Jaromir Jagr scored for the Czech Republic. Alexander Salak earned the shutout after saving 11 shots.
"I don’t think we were surprised," said Ondrej Nemec. "If you’re playing at the World Championship, every team is really good. They showed us today how good they are. It was a really tough game for us. We wanted to score a goal a little bit earlier."
His counterpart in the Italian net, Daniel Bellissimo, saved 35 shots in the game.
There was no doubt which team had the initiative from the first drop of the puck as the Czechs outshot Italy 12-1 in the first ten minutes. Italy, however, had the best chance to score with a shot that graced the outside of the post.
"That’s a tough hockey game to play," said Brian Ihnacak. "They dominated us for the majority of the game with all that skill. But it’s a battle and we kept them to the outside. But they like to play along the boards and behind the net."
For much of the period, the Czechs failed to generate much traffic in the Italian net, leaving Bellissimo to make easy saves. With five minutes to go, that changed a little bit as Roman Cervenka and Jiri Hudler both had good chances to score from in close, but to no avail.
Early in the second, the Czechs got on the board when Jiri Sekac skated into the zone a fired a rising wrist shot, using the defenceman as a screen, over Bellissimo’s shoulder to give the Czechs a 1-0 lead.
Minutes later, Sekac fed Jakub Petruzalek on a 2-on-1 break, but Bellissimo was quick to react on the shot and make the side, high on the glove hand side.
A little more than twelve minutes in, the Chizhovka crowd cheered as the jumbotron zoomed on a sleeping fan in the stands, perhaps lullabied by the still non-existing Czech traffic in on the net.
The Czechs continued to pound shots on Bellissimo. By the end of the second period, shots were 26-7 in favour of the Czech team.
Four minutes into the final round, Jaromir Jagr sent Tomas Hertl in alone on Bellissimo with a beautiful backhanded pass in the offensive zone, but the Italian netminder went down into a full split and made a pad save on Hertl’s deke.
The Italian attack intensified in the minutes that followed as they began to crash Alexander Salak’s net harder. But the Czech defenders managed to keep the puck on the right side of the goal line.
With eight minutes remaining Italy got another chance to tie the game as Jiri Hudler was called for high-sticking. Giulio Scandella did a nice job of setting up the power play, but the end result wasn’t there and the Czech lead remained intact.
"The third period was really tough," said Nemec. "Sometimes there were some lucky moments with the puck jumping in our crease. But for us, the most important thing is three points."
Instead, with 4:26 remaining, Jagr scored from close range to make it 2-0 with a hard wrist shot that found the far corner.
After that, it was smooth sailing for the Czechs.
Alexander Egger was named Italy's player of the game. Sekac was awarded the honour for the Czechs.
Italy will face Canada next, while the Czech Republic will take on Denmark.