Czech Republic tops UK 6-1 in hockey world championship prelim

The Czech team is now tied with Denmark for fourth place in Group A; the two teams will face each other on Monday, May 31.

Jason Pirodsky

Written by Jason Pirodsky
Published on 29.05.2021 15:22 (updated on 30.05.2021)

The Czech Republic handily topped the UK 6-1 in IIHF World Championship play today to move up to a tie for fourth place in Group A. The Czech team has just a pair of preliminary games remaining as the 2021 IIHF championship heads into its final week of play.

With eight points after five games, the Czech Republic is now tied with Denmark for fourth place in Group A; the two teams will face each other on Monday, May 31 in Riga. Only the top four teams in each group will advance to the quarterfinals.

The Czech national team got off to a shaky start in 2021 IIHF action after consecutive losses to Russia and Switzerland. But they've now won three in a row after topping Belarus, Sweden, and now the UK team.

After being seeded last between both groups, meanwhile, the UK surprised many with a win again against Belarus, though they've now dropped their other four games.

The Czech team dominated on Saturday, taking a total of 46 shots on goal against just 19 for the UK team. UK goaltender Jackson Whistle saved 29 shots before exiting in the third period with an injury.

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Czech defenseman Libor Šulák scored two of his team's goals, with one apiece from Lukáš Klok, Filip Hronek, and Michael Špaček.

Goaltender Roman Will allowed just a single goal on Saturday, coming with 23 seconds remaining in the second quarter.

"We didn’t start the tournament the way we wanted, but I think the third game against Sweden was critical for us," Špaček told an interviewer after the game.

"We were down by two goals after the second period and scored four goals and won the game, so that was a turning point. It gave us some confidence, and now we’ve won three in a row and are feeling good. Now we just have to focus on the next game."

Following the decisive matchup between the Czech Republic and Denmark on Monday, the Czech team will play Slovakia on Tuesday to close out preliminary IIHF play. Quarterfinals begin from Thursday.

Switzerland, Slovakia, and Russia (competing under the name ROC after the recent doping scandal) sit atop Group A ahead of the Czech Republic with nine points apiece after three games.

In Group B, last-seeded Kazakhstan has surprised with ten points after six games, tied with Finland at the top of the standings. The USA and Germany follow with nine points after four games.

The Czech Republic has won a total of six gold medals in IIHF world championships since the formation of the country in 1993. The national team hasn't scored a medal since 2012, however, when it won a bronze in Helsinki.

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In 2019, the Czech Republic made the semifinals but lost the bronze medal game in an overtime shootout with Russia.

The 2020 IIHF World Championship, scheduled to take place in Zürich and Lausanne, was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. This year's games in Riga are taking place under strict sanitary conditions that include a limit on the number of spectators.

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