Karjala win for Czechs
by Henrik Manninen|11 NOV 2019
Jakub Krejcik scored the Czechs’ game-winning goal against Finland.
photo: Richard Wolowicz / HHOF-IIHF Images
25 men’s national teams were in action in Europe during the November international break of the season, with Czech Republic ending a seven-year wait to win the Karjala Tournament. 

Three teams were in contention for top spot ahead of the final round of matches of the Karjala Tournament played in Helsinki. The Czechs were leading the pack with five points. Finland was breathing down their neck with four points while Russia had two points on board.

In the end, it was Milos Riha’s men who were worthy winners as they went undefeated throughout the tournament. The Czechs set the tone with a fine 3-1 opening day win against Sweden. Penalty shots downed the Finns 3-2 in their second game before blanking Russia 3-0 to claim their second Karjala Tournament win.

In their decider against Russia it was influential team captain Jan Kovar who put the Czechs ahead at 10:32. Lukas Sedlak scored his first international goal to double the lead with 8:56 left of the final frame before Andrej Nestrasil finished off the scoring 15 seconds before the end. 

In their Karjala Tournament opener, the Czechs got off to a flying start in Swedish city Leksand where they took on Tre Kronor. Winning the shots 17-6 in a second period, Dmitrij Jaskin broke the deadlock assisted by the immense Jakub Krejcik after 24:48.

Despite Sweden’s Mikael Wikstrand tying the game in front of a crowd of 5,078, Kovar got the Czechs back into the lead on the power play, before Michal Repik hit the nail in the coffin with an empty netter. 

Moving across the Baltic Sea to Finland, the Czechs continued their winning streak in Helsinki against reigning World Champions. The Czechs showed great determination when coming twice from behind with Tomas Filippi tying the game with around a minute left of ordinary time with Marek Langhamer pulled from the net. With the winner of the tight contest decided by penalty shots, it was Karpat Oulu’s blueliner Krejcik, who became the unexpected hero when converting for the Czechs. 

Finland had opened the Karjala Tournament in jubilant mood, first with a banner raised to the rafters celebrating its World Championship win in May before defeating Russia thanks to Harri Pesonen’s 5-4 winner. Leijonat finished second in the competition following a morale-boosting final day win against neighbours Sweden, 2-1. Mikko Lehtonen opened the scoring in the first period, before Teemu Turunen fed Miro Aaltonen to convert on the powerplay in the second frame. 

Russia finished third under new head coach Alexei Kudashov, while another assistant coach stepping up to the role as head coach, Johan Garpenlov will have to wait for his first win as Sweden finished fourth with a paltry point. 

Deutschland Cup success for Switzerland

In a season culminating with hosting the 2020 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championships in Zurich and Lausanne, Switzerland got its international season off to a winning start in dramatic fashion. The Alp nation claimed their third win in Deutschland Cup with previous top place finishes arriving in 2001 and 2007. 

Heading into the final round of games, Germany clung on to hopes of getting their hands on their first Deutschland Cup title since 2015. In the final game, they first needed Switzerland to slip up against Russia’s second team, before gunning for glory against Slovakia in the final game of the tournament played in Krefeld. 

Switzerland’s young team had first convincingly seen off Slovakia 5-2 in their opener as seven newcomers were fielded. Against Germany, they silenced an enthusiastic home crowd of 6,217, when tournament top scorer Pius Suter netted the game-winning 4-3 goal with one second remaining of overtime. Against Russia B, Alessio Bertaggia’s power-play goal with 13:48 left of the third period appeared to put the Swiss back in control, but Ivan Igumnov tied the game at 3-3 with less than three minutes of regular time play. Artyom Galimov then scored the winning penalty shot for last season's Deutschland Cup winners Russia B, who eventually had to settle for third place. 

But all was not yet for the Swiss. Following the game first from the stands and later at the airport, they needed Slovakia to get a point of Germany in their closing game. 

Germany´s Andreas Eder scored a brace to put the hosts in front with a two-goal cushion before the home fans watched with disbelief as Slovakia rallied back with Filip Krivosik’s tying the game to push the game into overtime. With any chance of Germany tournament victory now gone, Peter Zuzin piled on the misery scoring for the Slovaks 2:08 into overtime to win 3-2. 
Pius Suter was the scoring leader for the Swiss at the Deutschland Cup.
photo: Andre Ringuette / HHOF-IIHF Images

Belarus and Norway back on top

In the Baltic coastal town of Liepaja, Latvia hosted a four-team tournament with games against Belarus, France and Slovenia. 

In what became a fiercely competitive contest, Belarus occupied last place ahead of the final round of games. Having earlier defeated France 4-2 and then lost to Slovenia, Belarus still had a chance to climb up to top spot by beating the hosts in the final game of the tournament. 

Mikhail Stefanovich led the way with scoring a hat trick against as Belarus surged three goals up. Despite Latvia replying thanks to Miks Indrasis and 20-year-old Sandis Smons, Belarus held out for a fine win 3-2. 

Meanwhile in the outskirts of Norway’s capital Oslo, the hosts took on Austria and Denmark. Norway finished top of the standings with 11 out of 24 players on their roster played for a domestic club. 

Emphatically outshooting Austria 31-12, Norway came back from a goal down to win 3-1. In their Nordic encounter against Denmark, all six goals in the game were scored in the middle frame as Norway prevailed 4-2 in front of 1,908 onlookers in Lorenskog. 

Hungary and Latvia B also victorious

Despite opening with a defeat, Hungary sneaked past Italy on the final day to finish top in Poland´s Gdansk.  

Csanad Erdely had put Hungary 3-1 up in the final frame against Italy, before the top-seeds got into gear as the Magyars lost in overtime to a Marko Insam goal. 

But Jarmo Tolvanen´s Hungary bounced straight back in their next game to beat Japan 3-2 before silencing the home crowd in Gdansk as Poland was blanked 2-0 in their final game. Hungary could celebrate top spot after Japan outpaced a lacklustre Italy 4-1 for the morale-boosting victory for Hungary’s youthful roster. 

In Estonia’s capital Tallinn, Latvia B beat Ukraine 3-2 in the final to win the Baltic Challenge Cup. Estonia, Kazakhstan U20, Latvia B, Lithuania, Romania and Ukraine took part. 

Latvia B, with a roster solely made up of players from their domestic championship, had first beaten Kazakhstan 5-2 and Romania 5-3 to win a place in the final against Ukraine. In the match for top spot, Maris Dilevka scored a brace for Latvia B and also had an assist for Karlis Ozolins’ goal. 

November International Break - Men's Category

Euro Hockey Tour - Karjala Tournament in Finland
7 Nov. Helsinki (FIN) Russia - Finland 3-4 
7 Nov. Leksand (SWE) Czech Rep. - Sweden 3-1
9 Nov. Helsinki (FIN) Sweden - Russia 4-5 SO
9 Nov. Helsinki (FIN) Finland - Czech Rep. 2-3 SO
10 Nov. Helsinki (FIN) Czech Rep. - Russia 3-0
10 Nov. Helsinki (FIN) Finland - Sweden 2-1
Standings: 1. Czech Rep. 8, 2. Finland 6, 3. Russia 2, 4. Sweden 1
Deutschland Cup in Germany
7 Nov. Krefeld (GER) Slovakia - Switzerland 2-5
7 Nov. Krefeld (GER) Germany - Russia B 4-3
9 Nov. Krefeld (GER) Germany - Switzerland 3-4 OT
9 Nov. Krefeld (GER) Russia B - Slovakia 3-2 OT
10 Nov. Krefeld (GER) Switzerland - Russia B 3-4 SO
10 Nov. Krefeld (GER) Germany - Slovakia 2-3 OT
Standings: 1. Switzerland 6, 2. Germany 5, 3. Russia B 4, Slovakia 3
Four Nations Cup in Latvia
7 Nov. Liepaja (LAT) France - Belarus 2-4
7 Nov. Liepaja (LAT) Latvia - Slovenia 3-2 SO
8 Nov. Liepaja (LAT) Belarus - Slovenia 0-2
9 Nov. Liepaja (LAT) France - Latvia 1-2 OT
9 Nov. Liepaja (LAT) Slovenia - France 0-3
10 Nov. Liepaja (LAT) Latvia - Belarus 2-3 
Standings: 1. Belarus 6, 2. Latvia 4, 3 France 4, 4. Slovenia 4.
MECA Hockey Games in Norway
7 Nov. Lorenskog (NOR) Austria - Norway 1-3
8 Nov. Lorenskog (NOR) Denmark - Austria 1-3 
9 Nov. Lorenskog (NOR) Norway - Denmark 4-2
Standings: 1. Norway 6,  2. Austria 3,  3. Denmark 0
Euro Ice Hockey Challenge in Poland
8 Nov. Gdansk (POL) Hungary - Italy 3-4 OT
8 Nov. Gdansk (POL) Poland - Japan 3-2
9 Nov. Gdansk (POL) Poland - Italy 0-2
9 Nov. Gdansk (POL) Hungary - Japan 3-2
10 Nov. Gdansk (POL) Poland - Hungary 0-2
10 Nov. Gdansk (POL) Italy - Japan 1-4
Standings: 1. Hungary 7, 2. Italy 5, 3. Poland 3, Japan 3
Baltic Challenge Cup in Estonia
7 Nov. Tallinn (EST) Lithuania - Ukraine 2-1 OT
7 Nov. Tallinn (EST) Latvia B - Kazakhstan U20 5-2
8 Nov. Tallinn (EST) Romania - Latvia B 3-5
8 Nov. Tallinn (EST) Estonia - Ukraine 2-3
9 Nov. Tallinn (EST) Kazakhstan U20 - Romania 1-2 OT
9 Nov. Tallinn (EST) Estonia - Lithuania 3-2
10 Nov. Tallinn (EST) Ukraine - Latvia B 2-3
10 Nov. Tallinn (EST) Lithuania - Kazakhstan U20 4-3
10 Nov. Tallinn (EST) Estonia - Romania 3-1
Standings: 1. Latvia B, 2. Ukraine, 3. Estonia, 4. Romania, 5. Lithuania, 6 Kazakhstan U20