Czech ice hockey team earns silver in Junior World Championship

This is the best result of the under-20 Czech team in over two decades. Staff

Written by Staff Published on 06.01.2023 11:42:00 (updated on 06.01.2023) Reading time: 3 minutes

The Czech junior ice hockey team won silver at the Junior World Championship in Canada, after losing to the host nation in overtime. The final score was 3:2 for Canada.

For the Czech team, this was their best result in 22 years. They won back-to-back gold medals in 2000 and 2001, and a bronze medal in 2005.

The Canadian team also won the tournament last year. Team Canada has a total of 20 wins since the annual tournament began in 1977, which is the most wins of any team.

In this year's championship, the Czech team first faced Canada in a Group A match on Dec. 26 and beat them 5:2 in an upset. The Czechs also beat Austria and Germany but lost to Sweden in overtime in Group A.

In the playoffs, the Czechs beat Switzerland in the quarterfinals and Sweden in the semifinals to qualify for the finals.

Big comeback in the third period

Going into the third period in the final, the Canadian team led 2:0, but the Czech side managed to tie midway through with two goals less than a minute apart from each other.

Czech forward Gabriel Szturc said his team had come from behind earlier in the tournament. "We were down against Sweden. We were down against Canada in the first game. And we were down against Switzerland, too,” he said, according to the International Ice Hockey Federation.

The Canadians had a successful defense, and even in the third period, they seemed to have the match under control. But in the last eight minutes, everything changed due to the goals scored by Jiří Kulich and Jakub Kos.

“Although we were behind by two goals, none of us thought the game was over. We had to score two goals, we went for it and we succeeded,” team captain Stanislav Svozil told ČTK.

The Czech side was hopeful that could take home the gold once they tied in the final match.

“When we equalized, the emotions were great. We were all jumping on each other, it was unbelievable,” he said, adding that the Czechs missed out on what would have been a winning goal just 13 seconds before regular time ended. “We could have been even happier,” he added.

Extra time determines the winner

Extra time with three players from each team lasted six minutes and 22 seconds. After a hesitation by the Czech trio, Canada’s Dylan Guenther got control of the puck from Czech player Jiří Kulich and scored the winning goal.

Guenther said the game was a lot of fun. “You never know when you're going to get the opportunity to win again. To be here with this team, and play in front of these fans, it couldn't have ended better,” he said.

Svozil said the loss was a shame. “We could have had a chance, but the puck bounced off us. They then went two-on-one on the other side," Svozil added.

“Unfortunately, it was kind of a wild overtime because it's three on three, and we lost. It's not great, but I'm very proud of this team and what we've done here. I hope that our fans in the Czech Republic are proud too,” he said.

Despite the loss, Svozil said his overall impressions of the Junior World Championship were extremely positive. The Czech side never lost in regular time and earned a lot of respect thanks to its performances.

“It's an unforgettable tournament; we won a medal. … This is the most for me,” Svozil said after the game.

Kos, who scored the tying goal in the third period, was also proud of the team and everyone who works with it. “Of course, the players are on the ice, but people don't see the other people who care about the team. So I would like to thank everybody,” he said.

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