Czech ice hockey team takes bronze at 2024 Junior World Cup

The Czech Republic's national under-20 team defeated Finland 8-5 to claim the bronze medal at this year's IIHF World Junior Championship. Staff

Written by Staff Published on 06.01.2024 09:47:00 (updated on 07.01.2024) Reading time: 2 minutes

The Czech Republic's national under-20 ice hockey team secured the bronze medal at the IIHF Junior World Championship yesterday, building on their silver medal from the previous year. In a thrilling 3rd place match against Finland, the Czech team staged an impressive turnaround to win 8-5, despite trailing 3-5 at the end of two periods.

Tied 5-5 with less than two minutes remaining, a decisive go-ahead goal was scored by defenseman Tomáš Hamara. The Czech team added two more goals during during a power play against an empty net to seal their victory.

Forward Ondřej Becher played a pivotal role in the comeback victory, contributing a hat trick and two assists. He narrowed the deficit to 3-5 at the end of the second period, and scored his third goal with just 66 seconds remaining. Captain Jiří Kulich also added two goals and two assists.

The Czech team set multiple IIHF Juniors records during their comeback victory, scoring four goals in the span of 50 seconds (topping Canada's record of 68 seconds) and an incredible two goals in two seconds, beating a prior record of six seconds set by multiple teams.

The victory follows the Czech team's appearance in the final and their first medal in 18 years at the previous year's tournament in Halifax. Before that, the Czech (and former Czechoslovak) teams won two golds, five silvers, and seven bronzes at the tournament, which has been played annually since 1977.

After the match, coach Patrik Augusta praised the team's unity and spirit, noting the ups and downs they experienced throughout the tournament.

"We were telling the players after the second period that there weren't many people outside our box who believed it could be turned around," Augusta told reporters after the game.

"What the players did deserves a lot of respect. They were pulled by the right leaders and others joined in. I congratulate them very much, I respect them and it was a pleasure for me to stand behind them on the substitutes' bench. Now the players can enjoy it."

"It's the most beautiful feeling to end a junior career and I'm proud of the team. We showed the world that we can play with anyone and now we have a medal," Captain Jiří Kulich added. "We believed in it and went after it."

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