Czechia ousts US in ice hockey world championship, prepares for semi-final

A narrow victory means that Czechia will face Sweden in the tournament's semi-final, which will be played this weekend. Staff

Written by Staff Published on 24.05.2024 10:52:00 (updated on 24.05.2024) Reading time: 2 minutes

Czechia scored a huge victory against the U.S. in the Ice Hockey World Championship quarter-finals Thursday night, setting up a semi-final showdown with Sweden on Saturday.

A solitary goal from forward Pavel Zacha – who plays in the U.S. National Hockey League – in the second period during a power play was enough to see the Czechs to victory. The U.S. rallied to equalize, but Czechia could have doubled their lead in the latter stages of the match when it hit the post. Czechia will face Sweden, ranked sixth in the world, on Saturday at 2:20 p.m. 

This is the second time in the last three years that Czechia has made the final four of the world championships. In 2022, Czechia secured the bronze medal – their first medal since being crowned world champions in 2010. 

For the first time since 2019, the Americans have failed to reach the semi-finals. Thursday’s result was a surprise for many, with the U.S. ranked fourth in the world and Czechia eighth. "This year's American lineup was the brightest in years, including seven-time NHL All-Star forward Johnny Gaudreau and defenseman Seth Jones,” remarked U.S. television network NBC.

"We had a bit of luck, but when you win the quarter-finals, it means you’ve had an excellent performance,” remarked goalscorer Zacha. "We were under a bit of pressure in the third period, but we kept it up. It was an incredible atmosphere. Many thanks to the fans for the way they pushed us. I think it was an extra player, and we felt it. It's something incredible,” said forward Ondřej Kaše.

Sweden comes fresh from victory against Finland, who were among the tournament favorites. The Swedes won the world championship in both 2017 and 2018, and are 11-time world champions (in comparison to Czechia’s six world championships).

Canada and Switzerland make up the other semi-finalists – they will play on Saturday, May 25. The final takes place on May 26 in Prague – the official fan zone will be open to visitors on a first-come, first-served basis. Ranked first in the world, Canada are the favorites to win the tournament. The North American country beat Czechia 4:3 in their group match earlier this week.

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