Dvorsky shoots Slovakia to QF
by Andy Potts|24 APR 2023
Slovakia's Dalibor Dvorsky (second from left) accepts the congratulations of his team-mates after scoring on Germany in U18 World Championship action in Ajoie, Switzerland.
photo: Chris Tanouye / IIHF
Dalibor Dvorsky scored four to lead Slovakia into the quarter-finals at the 2023 U18 World Championship. In his country's final game in Group A, the hot-shot delivered a game-winning performance to break German hearts. Despite a brave performance in this 10-goal thriller, Germany now faces a relegation showdown.

"That was an awesome game," smiled the four-goal hero afterwards. "It was really up and down all the way and I’m so happy that we got the win.

"Scoring four, it was a huge game for me personally. I'm really happy about it, but now we have to recover and get ready for the next one."
In heavy losses to Canada and Czechia, we saw little from Germany’s offence. Against Slovakia, though, Alexander Duck’s team clearly decided to fight fire with fire. In the opening minutes, the Germans set the tone for their game by taking the play to Slovakia.

"We won against them a couple of times in friendly games," said Germany's Julius Stumpf. "We came out pretty good tonight, we had good offence. We created lots of chances and we used them. It was a really good game by us. But that penalty at the end led to the 5-4 and things didn't go our way."

At the other end, the Slovaks struggled to generate the impressive intensity seen in its earlier games, but seemed to settle to its task with a goal from its first power play of the evening. Juraj Pekarcik, one of his country’s most eye-catching performers here, intercepted a clearance on the left wing and made straight for the net. Cutting his way to the danger zone, he dished off a pass for Dvorsky to rifle home a one-timer from the right-hand circle.

However, Germany did not wobble. Another power play saw Norwin Panocha tie the game after a patient build-up got its reward. Paul Vinzen’s pass slithered through a thicket of skates to sit invitingly on the slot, and Panocha poked it home with the Slovak defence static to go to the intermission at 1-1.

The teams traded quick goals at the start of the second period, with Julius Sumpf firing Germany ahead through traffic, only for Daniel Jencko to tie it up within a minute when he squeezed home a rebound from a tight angle after Leon Willenscheid failed to control a rebound.

Penalty trouble let down Slovakia in tonight’s game, and a delayed call saw Germany regain the lead. Careful control of the puck enabled the Germans to make the most of its six-on-five play, and the move ended with a Vadim Schreiner blast from between the hash marks. Then, midway through the session, a goal made in Mannheim saw Linus Brandl’s diagonal pass release Kevin Bicker. He came off the boards to win a close-range duel with Urban and open a two-goal lead.

Slovakia had been competitive in all three games against Group A’s big guns, but all that good work was in danger of going to waste. Tibor Tartal’s team needed a big response from its leaders, and Dvorsky delivered. He pulled a goal back on 36 minutes, sniping home Adam Czedko’s feed to make it a one-goal game. Urban then stopped a penalty shot from Edwin Tropmann to bring a breathless second period to a close.

However, Slovakia had a hard time solving Willerscheid at the other end. The German goalie had 15 saves in a busy second period and continued to frustrate Dvorsky & Co for much of the third. However, with eight minutes to play, Dvorsky completed his hat-trick to tie the game. Jakub Chromiak brought the puck around the net, and the AIK Stockholm forward found a finish through a crowded crease to make it 4-4.

"[Germany] played really well as a team. It was hard to play against them. They blocked so many shots, but we found a way to get it done and that’s important," Dvorsky said.

Germany had to push for a winner, and that energy bubbled over for Lua Niehus with five minutes to play. He caught Pekarcik with a late, high hit and after a video review he was assessed a major penalty. That put Slovakia on the power play for the remainder of the game and it was a chance too good to waste. Dvorsky wrapped up a memorable night for him personally with a fourth goal to send his country to the playoffs. Pekarcik shrugged off the after effects of that Niehus hit to add an empty net goal with 40 seconds left.
Germany vs Slovakia - 2023 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 World Championship