International Ice Hockey Federation

Czechs go one up

Czechs go one up

Swiss rally falls short in 4-2 loss

Published 04.04.2017 14:53 GMT-4 | Author Andrew Podnieks
Czechs go one up
PLYMOUTH, MICHIGAN - APRIL 4: Czech Republic's Tereza Vanisova #21 and Lucie Manhartova #22 celebrate after Aneta Ledlova #15 (not pictured) goal while Switzerland's Laura Benz #21 looks on during relegation round action at the 2017 IIHF Ice Hockey Women's World Championship. (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/HHOF-IIHF Images)
First, the Czech penalty killers did their job. Then the Czech offence, which had sputtered so far, got going. The result was a huge relegation-round win.

The Czechs killed off four penalties in the opening period and emerged ahead 2-0 en route to a tight 4-2 win over the Swiss in the first game of a best-of-three relegation-round series.

Klara Peslarova was excellent in goal for the Czechs, stopping 27 of 29 shots in the victory.

The relegation series features teams with two radically different histories at this tournament. The Swiss have been out of the top division only once, in 2005, while the Czechs have been up only three times--2013, 2016, and this year.

The Czechs had managed only one goal in each of their three preliminary-round games--all losses--so today's offense was much needed and timely.

"Finally we scored more than one goal," a relieved Katerina Mrazova said. "They have a really good power play, but we prepared well for that, and that's why we won."

The first period could not have gone worse for the Swiss. They had a 5-on-3 for 1:27 early in the game, and although they passed the puck around crisply they didn't force Peslarova to make one difficult save.

"We didn't have a good start, and by the time we got going it was too late," veteran Swiss defenceman Sarah Forster lamented. "We have to forget about this and get ready for the next game."

To their credit, the Czechs clogged the area in front of her goal, and when the they incurred another penalty a short time later, they did more of the same. Time and again the Swiss fired wide of the goal, allowing the Czechs to escape the difficult situation.

"They didn't hit the net, but our penalty killers did a really good job," Mrazova noted. "After that, they were down and we were up because our p.k. was so good."

And then, of course, the Czechs scored on their first decent chance. The goal, at 14:29, was the result of a Schelling rebound and lax coverage in front of her, allowing Tereza Vanisova to lift a puck in for a surprising Czech lead.

The Czechs survived another short-handed situation and then made it 2-0. This time a turnover in the corner allowed Mrazova to cut in on goal and slide the puck under Schelling from an awkward angle. A period in which the Swiss should have emerged from with a lead instead ended with the Czechs up, 2-0.

Despite their desperate situation, the Swiss came out flat in the second and the Czechs had several chances to up the score. At 10:43 they made it 3-0 when Aneta Ledlova walked out from the corner and snuck a shot under the arm of Schelling. 

As if to put an accent on their bad fortunes, Alina Muller rang a penalty shot off the post late in the period, leaving the Swiss still desperately in need of a goal.

That didn't come until 12:23 of the third. Anja Stiefel made a nice pass to Lara Stalder in front, and her quick one-timer beat Peslarova to make it 3-1.

Things got interesting quickly, though. Captain Livia Altmann wired a slapshot over Peslarova's glove just a minute and a half later, and a dormant Swiss team was now full of life and one shot away from tying the game.

Czech coach Jiri Vozak called a timeout to calm down the players. "I think we got a little scared to play," Mrazova said. "We played back too much, so the timeout was helpful for us."

Indeed, that was as close as the Swiss got. Ledlova added her second, an empty-netter, with 18.1 seconds left to seal the win and take control of the relegation series.


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