Czechs keep Hungary winless
by Lucas Aykroyd|22 AUG 2021
Forward Tereza Radova (#27) scores the Czech Republic's first goal in a 4-2 Group B victory over Hungary at the 2021 IIHF Ice Hockey Women's World Championship in Calgary.
photo: Andre Ringuette / HHOF-IIHF Images
The Czech Republic took a two-goal first-period lead and went on to beat Hungary 4-2 for their second straight win. The newly promoted Hungarians, appearing for the first time at the IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship, remain winless.

Teresa Radova, Daniela Pejsova, Vendula Pribylova, and Denisa Krizova scored for the Czechs, who outshot Hungary 36-13.

"We tried to come fast and play as a team," Krizova said. "We started the game the way we wanted to and scored a couple of goals."

The Czech Republic, which won all four of its Group B games at the 2019 Women’s Worlds in Espoo, is seeking to improve on its peak sixth-place finishes (2016, 2019).

From puck possession to net-front presence, the early signs in Calgary are promising. However, there's still room for coach Tomas Pacina's women to improve, including staying out of the sin bin.

"We didn't come out with the right attitude," said a critical Pacina. "We did score some goals but we let up and let Hungary back into the game again. The game was very even all the way to the end. So we needed some goaltending and some luck."

Reka Dabasi scored the first top-level goal in Hungarian Women’s Worlds history, while captain Fanni Gasparics had a goal and an assist. The Hungarians fell 3-0 to Germany in their opener.

"I thought in the beginning of the game, we were a little scared, not confident with ourselves," said Hungary's Lotti Odnoga. "But as the periods went through, I thought we played really well and felt more confident. We were not scared to have the puck. We actually played it."

Pacina gave top Czech goalie Klara Peslarova her second straight start, while Zsofia Toth made her Women’s Worlds debut at the other end.

The Czechs wasted little time, mounting heavy offensive zone pressure and exploiting Hungarian defensive lapses to get out in front. Just above the goal line on the left side, Radova centered the puck to an unguarded Noemi Neubauerova and then followed up to bang Neubauerova’s rebound into the gaping cage at 3:42.

The Czechs weren’t able to cash in on their first power play. But they had the extra attacker out with a delayed penalty coming up immediately afterwards when Pejsova – again, unguarded in front – got a whack at it and it went in off Dabasi’s left skate at 6:56 for a 2-0 edge.

Past the midway point of the first, Hungary had a golden chance to get on the board when forward Regina Metzler – the tournament’s youngest player at age 15 – picked up a bounce off Hungary’s end boards and sped off on a breakaway. Yet Peslarova read it all the way, sliding over to deny Metzler’s move to the backhand.

"The kid's 15 years old, and she goes out there and competes every shift," said Hungarian coach Lisa Haley. "She's fearless. I'm really excited about the future that she has."

Minutes later, Toth stood her ground when Neubauerova came in all alone, jamming the puck on the forehand off the goalie’s left’s post.
Hungary vs Czech Republic - 2021 IIHF Ice Hockey Women's World Championship
The Czech Republic took a two-goal first-period lead and went on to beat Hungary 4-2 for their second straight win. The newly promoted Hungarians, appearing for the first time at the IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship, remain winless.
HUN CZE 22 AUG 2021
In the second period, Pribylova made it 3-0 Czechs at 3:18 with her second goal in as many games. On a 2-on-1 with Tereza Vanisova, Pribylova looked off her linemate and then zinged a blocker side shot over Toth’s right pad. These two Czech forwards have longtime chemistry, not just from the national team, but also from the University of Maine.

"To be honest, I just remember that we were going pretty much from the red line to a 2-on-1," Pribylova said. "And I couldn't pass it to Tereza, so I just shot and I scored. It was a nice pass from her, I think, at the start. We're pretty close from Maine, but recently, we didn't play together. Still, it's something where we know where we are, where we have each other."

Just 1:18 later, Krizova overpowered Toth with a heavy power-play slapper for a 4-0 gap.

Despite losing the majority of puck battles, the Hungarians did their best to chip away at the Czech armour. They took a relentless approach on the forecheck that paid off with a buzzer-beater.

Captain Fanni Gasparics lugged the puck into the Czech zone, followed up to grab it in the corner, and got it to Dabasi behind the goal line. She centered it to Kinga Jokai-Szilagyi and then continued to the far post, where she backhanded in the loose puck at 19:59 of the second period. It was a well-earned celebration.

"I think it went in off the Czech goalie's stick, actually, like a bounce," Dabasi said of her historic goal. "It was a big relief for our team to finally put one in, because we had a lot of chances against Germany but we couldn't score."

Just past the four-minute mark of the third period, another teenaged Hungarian forward got a monumental opportunity to cut the deficit to two goals.

Emma Kreisz, 17, was tripped up on a breakaway by sliding Czech forward Lenka Serdar. On the ensuing penalty shot, Kreisz tried to divert Peslarova by waving her stick over the puck as she skated in, but nothing doing, as she roofed her backhand wide.

Krizova lauded Peslarova: "She's an awesome goalie. She's an awesome person. She always gets ready, every single game, and she wants to be on top of her game. No matter who we play, she just wants to do her job and focus throughout the whole game."

Poor Czech discipline saw the Hungarians enjoying multiple power plays down the stretch, including a 5-on-3 for 47 seconds with under five minutes left. But they just didn't have the firepower to claw their way back to equal terms.

Gasparics stickhandled in front of the net and squeezed a quick shot through Peslarova with 38 seconds left to make it 4-2. Showing a never-say-die attitude, Haley pulled Toth for a sixth skater with a faceoff in the Czech end and a 4-on-3 power play in effect. But that was as close as the Hungarians would get.

In 2019, the Hungarians secured promotion to the elite Women's Worlds by topping the Division I Group tournament they hosted in Budapest. There, they suffered just one loss (2-1 to Slovakia in a shootout). They're continuing to learn valuable lessons about what it takes to compete among the world's top 10 teams.

"We tried to come into this game being confident, thinking that we could skate with the Czechs, but I'm not quite sure we truly believed that," said Haley. "And they're a very, very good team. They're very skilled. They definitely have more talent than us. And we recognize that there's more to winning and having success than just having talent. So we're trying to dig deeper into those areas, and we gained a lot of experience in these first two games."

The Czechs play their third game in four days against Japan on Monday, while the Hungarians will look for their first win against Japan on Tuesday.

"They are superbly organized," Pacina said. "Good skating team, really good sticks on pucks. They won't give us anything. So another great test for our team, and we need it."
Hungary vs Czech Republic - 2021 IIHF Ice Hockey Women's World Championship