Czechs win first in OT
by Andrew Podnieks|24 MAY 2021
Dominik Kubalik celebrates after scoring the Czechs' game-winning goal in overtime.
photo: Chris Tanouye / HHOF-IIHF Images
Dominik Kubalik scored at 1:23 of overtime to give the Czech Republic a hard-earned, 3-2, victory over Belarus in Group A action. The win is the first for the Czechs after two losses and moves them into 6th spot in the standings with two points. With the loss, Belarus is also 1-2 so far and is in 4th with four points.

Kubalik ended a wild sequence of events during the three-on-three when he took a breakaway pass from Robin Hanzl and beat 19-year-old Alexei Kolosov with a perfect shot. Czech goalie Simon Hrubec also picked up an assist on the goal.

"We wanted to work hard right from the start, work relentless with the puck, and I think that’s what we did tonight," said a happy Kubalik. "I’m very happy with the win tonight."

Belarus's Nick Bailen made a great defensive play earlier in the OT to prevent a great scoring chance, and as play moved up ice he found himself alone in front. His hard shot was stopped by Hrubec, and soon after the Czechs won.

"It was a good game for us," said Vladislav Yeryomenko of Belarus. "The guys battled hard. We blocked a lot of shots. We tried to do our best and play for each other on the team. We got one more point; we could have had more but it is what it is. We’re a really close-knit team and that helped us today. We showed some great character to tie it up in the third and we might even have won it – we had a great chance in overtime."

The Czechs have won all ten games between the two countries in WM history. 

Kolosov was excellent in his first start with the senior team after playing the U18 in 2019. He stopped 35 of 38 shots, while Belarus had 23 shots at Hrubec.

"They're tough to play against," noted Filip Zadina, who had one of the Czech goals. "They often just have four players along their blue line waiting for us, so it's tough, but it's always been like that. We tried to create some offence and when we scored the first goal pretty soon after they scored it really helped."

"I think we played better today, but we didn't score enough," added Filip Hronek, who assisted on both Czech goals in regulation. "We gave them so many grade A chances, so we're happy we won in overtime."

"We played really well defensively and in the neutral zone, scored a couple of goals," said veteran Belarus forward Sergei Kostitsyn. "We've been getting better every game. We lost the game, but there are seven games before the playoffs. We're just going to move on to the next one."
Czech Republic vs Belarus - 2021 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship
Dominik Kubalik scored at 1:23 of overtime to give the Czech Republic a hard-earned, 3-2, victory over Belarus in Group A action.
CZE BLR 24 MAY 2021
The game started out as everyone might have expected. The more skilled Czechs tried time and again to get the puck into the Belarus end and generate scoring chances, but the defenders closed in around their goalie, clogged the middle, blocked shots, and lifted the puck out over the blue line.

This happened time and again, but the Czechs were patient. Belarus tried to wait for the counter attack to generate their own chances, but the Czechs didn’t give any room outside the attacking zone either.

The best scoring chance came late in the period when an errant bounce found Jiri Sekac point blank with the puck on his stick. He managed only a weak shot, though, and Kolosov made the save. Still, the Czechs pressed and spent longer and longer in the Belarus end, producing scant opportunities, though.

Then, in the final two minutes, German Nesterov took a hooking penalty, and the rest of the period played out in the Belarus end as the Czechs tried frantically to score. The Belarus defence was further weakened when Stepan Falkovski blocked a shot which broke his stick, and for a minute or more he was pinned in his own end, giving the Czechs an extra advantage. They couldn’t get a clear chance on Kolosov all the same.

And then, just like that, Belarus stormed out to a 1-0 lead early in the second. They had a power play which yielded some decent chances and momentum, and opened the scoring at 5:52 off the rush. Sergei Kostitsyn tried to make a pass in front, but defenceman Lukas Klok blocked it. Captain Yegor Sharangovich was right there, however, and snapped the loose puck in.

The Czechs remained patient and persistent and tied the game four minutes later. Hronek made a sensational slap-pass from the point to Jan Kovar, stationed to the side, and Kovar redirected the puck into the open side to make it a 1-1 game.

Three minutes later, the Czechs took the lead for the first time on their second power play of the game. Zadina took a shot from the faceoff dot to Kolosov’s right, and the puck snuck under the goalie's arm and rolled into the net at 13:03.

Kolosov kept it a one-goal game with a fine save on Jakub Flek, who had a breakaway late in the period.

Down a goal, Belarus had to press in the third, but the Czechs were equally effective in their end. Then, Vladislav Yeryomenko tied the game at 11:30 when he took a pass and waited a beat before firing a shot over the shoulder of Hrubec. That set the stage for Kubalik's overtime heroics.
Czech Republic vs Belarus - 2021 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship