Czech stars shine
by Erin Brown|09 JAN 2023
Czechia's top line combined for seven points against Japan.
photo: Chris Tanouye / IIHF
A day after being held off the scoresheet, Czechia's top line settled in and delivered the teams second straight victory.

Tereza Piestikova, Tereza Plosova, and Adela Sapovalivova accounted for three of Czechia's goals and seven points in a comfortable 5-1 win over Japan.

"We are really happy when we play together," Sapovalivova said. "It was good and we'll be better and better in more matches."

Goaltenders Michaela Hesova and Barbora Dalecka split time in net and made 17 saves for the win.
Japan vs Czechia - 2023 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 Women's World Championship
JPN CZE 09 JAN 2023
The Czechs broke through with a power-play goal 18:06 into the first period when Piestikova tapped in a bouncing puck at the right side of the net.

A little more than four minutes into the second period, Plosova and Sapovalivova doubled Czechia's lead. Plosova skated up ice on a 2-on-1 and passed to Sapovalivova for a give-and-go before finishing with a deke around goaltender Madoka Sekiguchi's left pad.

Czechia extended its lead to 3-0 With 27 seconds in the second period, when Linda Vocetkova collected a rebound in slot, spun around and fired it past Sekiguchi.

Czechia platooned its goaltenders, with Michaela Hesova earning the start and backup Barbora Dalecka entering the game a little more than midway through the second period. Hesova finshed with 11 saves in 33:05 of ice time. Dalecka stopped all but one of six shots faced.

"We have to give her a little bit of confidence for this tournament." Czechia coach Dusan Andrasovsky said. "It is important we don't know what will happen. The two girls have to be ready."

The Japanese played Czechia evenly through the first two periods as both teams registered 14 shots apiece.

"Our game plan was to minimize the number of goals, so we did very well," Japan coach Yujiro Kasahara said thought a translator.

Japan had three power-play opportunities in the second period, but were unable to capitalize despite getting at least four shots on net.

"They were big chances for us, but we just couldn't finish and get a goal," Kasahara said. "The goalies for Czechia were very good. We have to work on finishing."

Japan finally got on the board 3:22 into the third period when Ai Tada chased down a loose puck in the neutral zone, skated in on a breakaway and lifted the puck over Dalecka's glove.

"I was free," Tada said through a translator. "I could focus on the shot."

But the Czechs stifled Japan's momentum 61 seconds later with defender Lucie Velinska's first goal and second point of the tournament.

Sapovalivova chipped in her first of the tournament with 26 seconds remaining in the contest. She redirected a pass from Plosova which took a rainbow-like bounce over Sekiguchi left shoulder and into the net.

"It was amazing," Sapovalivova said. "I was really happy, but it was (not a pretty) goal."

Sekiguchi finished with 30 saves for Japan, 19 in the third period alone.

"She played very well, but she was giving up rebounds that our other players could not clear out," Kasahara said.

Both teams will be off on Tuesday for practice before resuming play on Wednesday for the final game of round-robin action. Czechia will face rival Slovakia at noon, while Japan faces Switzerland at 18:00.

"We have practice tomorrow so we can revise the mistakes we made the last two games," Tada said. "We'll be ready for the next game against Switzerland."
Japan vs Czechia - 2023 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 Women's World Championship