Czechia earns semifinal berth
by Ameeta VOHRA|11 APR 2024
photo: @ International Ice Hockey Federation / Andre Ringuette
Daniela Pejsova scored the lone goal as Czechia punched their ticket to the semifinal. The team defeated Germany 1-0 in the quarter-final at the 2024 IIHF Women's World Championship in Utica, New York on Thursday afternoon.

Both teams came out flying in the first period and some tremendous saves made by both goaltenders in this game.  Germany's defensive unit had to find ways to contain Czechia's dynamic offensive lines.

Germany had an opportunity 6:23 into the game as Czechia's Andrea Trnkova was assessed a penalty for an illegal hit.  Three of their five shots in the period came on a solid power play.  Their best chance was when Daria Gleissner passed the puck to Bernadette Karpf who tried to bang it into the net.  However, goaltender Klara Peslarova made the save.  

Forward Emily Nix has an other opportunity on the power play but could not beat Peslarova.

Czechia's top line was pressing for the lead but German goaltender Sandra Abstreiter picked up from where she left off in the preliminary round. With 11:07 gone by in the period, Tereza Vanisova sped into the German zone and tried to blast it through the net, but Albstreiter made a huge save.  

At the halfway mark of the period, Trnkova made a shot on point with a great screen, but Abstreiter backstopped the puck from going into the net. With 8:32 remaining in the period forward Tereza Plosova had some nifty moves and glided the puck through the legs of a German defender but Abstreiter was focused and made another key save.  

Adela Sapovalivova came close to putting Czechia in the lead with 6:58 remaining in the period.  The forward ripped the shot to the net and Albstreiter made a chest save to keep it a scoreless game.

The Germans were effective in keeping Czechia's offense away from the middle of the ice in the first period.

It was more of the same in the second period. Czechia tried to pull out Peslarova in favour of an extra attacker 2:44 into the frame, but the tactic did not work.  

Czechia had a golden opportunity to take the lead as they went on the power play.  However, Germany's special teams unit effectively killed it and did not allow Czechia a single shot on net.  Germany continued to show their confidence on both the offensive and defensive blue lines.

With 11:30 remaining in the period Germany had two attempts to get the first goal of the game, but Peslarova dug deep to make the saves.

On the other end, Trnkova blasted a one-timer but the hard work of the German defensive unit helped Abstreiter to stop the puck from going into the net.

Emily Nix almost came close to scoring on a breakaway but she was not able to convert it into a score as the puck went too high with 6:07 left in the third period. Leading scorer Natalie Mlynkova walked in and tried to blast the puck past the German net but Abstreiter was there to deny her with 5:24 left.

With 5:00 left in the period, Bernadette Karpf came close to getting the first goal of the game but Peslarova made the save.  

In the last minute of the period, Czechia pressed harder but the Germans kept the team at bay to keep it a scoreless game.

Mylnkova had two close chances to give Czechia the lead in the third period.  She walked in and had lots of space to shoot the puck, but was denied by Abstreiter with 4:19 gone by in the frame.  Then 19 seconds later, she launched the puck towards the net, but the German goaltender made a left glove save.

Czechia finally would get the first goal with 7:06 remaining in the game.  Defender Aneta Tejralova glided the puck over to Daniela Pejsova who launched a one-timer past Abstreiter's left shoulder and into the net for the goal. 

"Aneta [Tejralova] and I, we were talking right from the beginning of the game," Pejsova says of the goal.  "We were talking that we should make a DD pass on the blue line. It didn’t go really well during the game, but then in the third it was a great game from the corner from Michaela Pejzlova. I just closed my eyes and shot it.”

Germany did not let up in the final minutes of the game as they pressured Peslarova in the final minutes of the game to get the equalizer. The team went on the power play with 2:55 remaining as Denisa Krizova received a game misconduct penalty for checking from behind.  They were not able to get the equalizer even with the extra attacker out in the final seconds of the game. Czechia blocked some key shots to secure the win.

“We found our way today and we were working hard," Pejsova says. "I'm very proud of the whole team and how we managed this game. Even though we were still fighting we earned the win, so I'm very proud.”

Czechia, the back-to-back bronze medalists, gave props to a very formidable opponent in Germany.

“They were a tough team to play against," Pejsova says.  "They were working very hard.  They were playing with the bodies so it was a hard game.”

As for Germany, they were hoping to pull off the upset but the team was proud of what they accomplished in the game.

“We showed up right from the start," Abstreiter says.  "We came out really fast. We frustrated the Czechs a little bit; I don't think they were expecting that from us. We caught them off guard a little bit and I we played really well for all 60 minutes and especially in the third period. We got better the longer the game went on. We battled until the end, so it was overall really good performance wise.”

Abstreiter faced 24 shots on goal in the loss and kept Germany in the game.

"We know that they’re a really good team; we obviously respect that," the goaltender says.  "There's no doubt that they have really skilled players, but it's the same for every other game as well. It might even be like a little bit more of a motivation, knowing that they're such a good team.”

One of the key reasons the German team has found success at the Women's Worlds is team cohesion.

“We have a lot of players that play all over the place," Abstreiter says.  "We have a few of the girls playing the NCAA, some play in Germany, I played in the PWHL and we had some girls in Sweden. It's really important once we get together to find that team spirit and team cohesion. We did a really good job, just hanging out together and with little things like that. We have a really good bond.”