Czechs make it 2-for-2
by Derek O'Brien|14 MAY 2023
photo: © International Ice Hockey Federation / Matt Zambonin

Czechia defeated Kazakhstan 5-1 in the second game for both teams at the 2023 IIHF World Championship. However, the young, never-say-die Kazahs – who came from behind to beat Norway in a shootout yesterday – gave the heavily-favoured Czechs a bit of a scare, with the score just 2-1 entering the third period.

“We had lots of chances but didn't score, and we were up only one goal and maybe feeling a little nervous because you never know,” said Czech defenceman Michal Jordan. “Maybe the puck jumps over our stick and they tie the game? But we did a good job in the third and happy with the two wins.”

Czechia outshot Kazakhstan 43-15.

“It was, I think, a good game,” said Kazakh forward Batyrlan Muratov, who assisted on his team’s goal. “We weren’t ready for the first period but we woke up in the second. We lost, but it’s a good experience for us. We’re learning and we’re enjoying it.”

With the win, Czechia joins Canada and Switzerland atop Group B with six points each after two games. Kazakhstan stays on two and is fifth in the group.

Lukas Sedlak had a goal and two assists for Czechia, giving the 30-year-old five points after his first two career World Championship games.

“He’s great,” Czech defenceman Jakub Zboril said about Sedlak. “I just hope he keeps going this way because he’s a really great leader on the ice, he’s playing the right way every single game, so he’s really valuable to this team.”

Dominik Kubalik and Michael Spacek had two points each for the Czechs, who did a lot of their damage on the power play, going 3-for-6. Kazakhstan was 0-for-1, with the only Czech penalty coming 1:39 into the game. 

In the first period, it looked like the Czechs might run away with this game, outshooting the Kazakhs 17-4 and staking out to a 2-0 lead.

They opened the scoring at 8:48 when Zboril took the puck from the point to the slot and beat Andrey Shutov blocker side.

“It felt great,” the Boston Bruins defenceman said about his first World Championship goal. “It was easy for me because my teammates did a good job screening the goalie. I just took it to the middle and saw a clear lane to shoot it so I did and it went in.”

The 2-0 goal came on the power play at 15:25 when Michal Kempny teed up a one-timer from Kubalik, who beat Shutov over the glove.

The action really started to pick up midway through the second period, starting with Valeri Orekhov hooking Jakub Flek on a partial breakaway, which resulted in a penalty shot. The shot was taken by Kubalik, who tried to slide a backhand through Shutov’s legs but was denied by the Kazakh keeper.

Then 59 seconds later, Kazakhstan scored. The players moved the puck quickly around the Czech zone and Muratov fed out front to Maxim Mukhametov, who backhanded it through Marek Langhamer.

Just over a minute later, a failed Czech rush in one direction quickly led to a Kazakh breakaway the other way. Nikita Mihailis skated in alone on Langhamer and tried to shoot five-hole, but was denied.

“We didn't play well in the second period,” said Czech captain Roman Cervenka. “We were too risky, gave them a 2-on-1 and 3-on-2. That's not our hockey. We have to play good defence and using that to create chances. But we played better in the third and got the three points, which is the main thing.”

The Czechs restored their two-goal lead early in the third period. Off the rush, David Tomasek knocked down a puck with his glove at the blueline and fed Sedlak, who beat Shutov low to the far side.

A few minutes later, they made it 4-1 on the power play, with Cervenka serving up Jan Kostalek for a one-timer from the point, which blew by everybody.

Kubalik rounded out the scoring with a one-timer on a 5-on-3 with 1:01 to play.

Czechia is back in action tomorrow against host Latvia, while Kazakhstan gets a day off before taking on Switzerland Tuesday.

Czechia vs Kazakhstan - 2023 IIHF WM