Czechia has advanced to the semi-finals at the 2022 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 World Championship following an 8-0 quarter-final win over Switzerland in Landshut.
The Czechs last appeared in the final four in 2018 in Russia, when they finished fourth. The last medal for Czechia at the U18 Worlds was a silver in Finland in 2014. The Swiss were searching for their first semi-final appearance since 2015 and their first medal since 2001.
“Usually the quarter-finals is the end of the tournament for us,” said Czech head coach Jakub Petr, who coached the silver-medal Czech team in 2014 that included David Pastrnak and Jakub Vrana.
“Our goal was to stay to the end of the tournament, and with this win, we will do that,” said Petr. “Landshut is a pretty nice city and now we get to spend the weekend here.”
“It didn’t go how we wanted, for sure,” said a disappointed Swiss coach Marcel Jenni. “We were maybe a little bit too optimistic about our ability to match up against them, but they were much faster than us all over the ice. We were far away from being able to play our game, which I have to take responsibility for as the leader.”
Czechia outshot Switzerland 36-8, with Michael Schattinger getting the relatively easy shutout in his second start of the tournament.
“I have to give kudos to the Czech team,” said Jenni. “They were unbelievably fast, they crashed the net. They capitalized on almost every mistake we made and we were a little bit too slow and they took advantage.”
“We try to play defence first and use that to build the offence, and today I think we created a lot of chances for the offensive guys,” said defenceman Ales Cech. “I think it was a pretty nice game. We didn’t concede any goals, we scored a lot. It was just a perfect game for us. Nothing else I can say.”
The Czech offence was spread around with Marek Soukup, Simon Slavicek and Jiri Kulich each scoring twice. Kulich, the Czech captain, also had an assist now leads the tournament with eighth goals and 10 points. With two more assists, defenceman Tomas Hamara’s total goes up to seven, which leads defencemen in points. Eduard Sale only got one assist, but that gives him a tournament-leading eight.
The always dangerous Czech power play went 3-for-5 in this game, and is now 11-for-23 (47.83 per cent) in the tournament. The Swiss came up empty on five attempts.
The Czechs were ready to go right out of the gate, with Kulich getting a dangerous chance on the first shift that Alessio Berglieri stopped. But he didn’t stop Soukup, who opened the scoring at the two-minute mark when he used his speed with the puck to get in behind the Swiss defence and slid the puck through Berglieri’s pads on the forehand.
Matyas Sapovaliv made it 2-0 on the power play, deflecting Hamara’s low shot from the point.
“I think we played great, and controlled the whole game,” who had two points in the game, both on the power play. “We had some injuries at the start of the tournament and we had to change it a little bit. I think our power play looks great right now and I’m happy to be part of it.”
Ondrej Becher made it 3-0 on a one-time blast on a set-up by Adam Bares at 10:20, at which point Berlieri was relieved in the Swiss net after stopping five of eight Czech shots.
Things didn’t get much better with Loris Uberti between the pipes, however. Slavicek got credit for the fourth Czech goal after Uberti stopped his shot but Swiss defenceman Louis Fullemann accidentally put the rebound into his own net.
Czechia had the game’s first 16 shots on goal before Noah Rod finally tested Schattinger in the final minute of the opening period.
“The last game against Latvia we played well together. We were blocking shots and going hard to the net, so we were confident coming into this game,” said Swiss captain Simone Terraneo. “It wasn’t the end we wanted, of course, but I was happy to be part of this group.”
About the Czechs, Terraneo said: “They are really good offensively. They’ve scored a lot of goals this tournament. They go fast to the net, they got a lot of shots, and in the defensive zone they’re strong.”
The Czechs added three more goals in the second period. First Slavicek on the power-play one-timer following a cross-ice pass from Matyas Melovsky. Kulich made it 6-0, going top shelf on the rush, and Soukup’s second of the game made it 7-0 after he converted a drop pass from Vojtech Polak.
Switzerland’s best offensive chance of the period was a Mattheo Reinhard breakaway, but the puck rolled off his stick as he tried to make a move and slid wide.
With his second of the game at 5:41 of the third period, Kulich, again on the power play, made it 8-0 to round out the scoring.
“I really like the development of these guys,” said Petr. “We met in July before the Hlinka Gretzky Cup, we’ve had some ups and downs all season, but suddenly things are coming together. I think we’ve gotten better every game this tournament and I was a happy coach today.”