Czechia hasn’t won gold at this event since 2001, but this team is putting the rest of the field on red alert notice that it is gold-capable in 2023.
"We want to do better than we did in the summer," said David Jiricek. "In August, we had a tough time in the playoffs. We beat the U.S. but it was tough to lose to Canada in the semi-finals. Tonight, we allowed the first goal quickly, but we kept playing the right way and we were able to score."
"It was a tough game," admitted Swiss captain Attilio Biasca, "but you can't play like that in the quarters. It's really disappointing. Overall, though, we had three wins in our first four games, but we had more to give. I think we have to play disciplined hockey for 60 minutes. You can't allow turnovers and penalties against good teams."
Jiri Kulich had two goals and two assists while Marcel Marcel had two goals and one helper. The Czechs have now scored 33 goals in five games. Jiricek is not surprised. "A lot of us played together at U16," he explained, "and we've been together ever since. We have a of experience together and are playing really well."
Kulich agreed. "We have a good mindset on the team; we're all like one player. We're a better team now than in the summer. For now, we're staying humble and positive. We're not surprised how much we're scoring. We know we have a lot of good players."
But the Czechs stormed back and tied the game less than two and a half minutes later. Playing four-on-four, Stanislav Svozil got the puck to Kulich, and his quick shot beat Kevin Pasche. Incredibly, Suchanek got another assist on the play, his record fourth helper of this tournament.
Czechia went ahead at 7:09 while short-handed. Marcel got the puck in his end and dashed the length of the ice, blowing by Dario Sidler in the process before tucking the puck in. Less than three minutes later, they scored a similar goal from the other side. This time, Petr Hauser drove hard to the net and cut in. The puck deflected off a man in front as the goal net came off its moorings, and the puck crossed the goal line. Video review confirmed the goal despite protests from the Swiss.
This was just the beginning. The Czechs added four goals spread out over a dominant middle period in which Suchanek barely had to touch the puck. They made it 4-1 just 28 seconds in when the puck rolled back to Jiricek and he just launched a rocket that went off the glove of Pasche and in.
Swiss coach Marco Bayer pulled the goalie in favour of Alessio Beglieri, but on this night there was no motivational benefit to the move. Beglieri surrendered his first goal just five minutes later off a nice close-in passing play from Eduard Sale to Kulich.
At 13:10 the score went up by one again off a booming one-timer from Gabriel Szturc, and at 18:54 a bullet wrister from Sale went bar down for an 7-1 score.
The third was more of the same as the Swiss more or less folded the tent waiting for the ordeal to be over. Marcel got his second at 3:18 and 64 seconds later Szturc finished the scoring with another hard shot that beat the overmatched Beglieri.