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Czechs Drop Italy, 7-2

Krejci, Czechs prepare for the next round

Wednesday, 05.7.2008 / 8:49 AM ET / Features
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Czechs Drop Italy, 7-2 continues to have comprehensive coverage of the World Junior Tournament. Here is a recap of the Czech Republic's game against Italy. The B's David Krejci did not figure in the scoring, but played 12:36 and had three shots on goal. JB
Quebec City – Before the puck dropped, most figured the Italians would be like Christians fed to the lions on the retro Czech jerseys their opponents wore Tuesday night. And that’s what happened.

The 7-2 final score had no effect on the Group D standings, as the Czechs had second spot sewn up and the Italians were bound for the Relegation Round regardless.

Sparking the attack, Radim Vrbata scored two goals, bringing his team-leading total to four. Patrick Elias, Marek Zidlicky, and Martin Erat had a goal and an assist each, and Tomas Kaberle chipped in three assists.

“It was a nothing game,” said Erat. “We just went in and tried to win the game without getting injured. It was nice to just take it easy in the third period. The Italians have a lot of Canadians. They tried their best, and I hope they can stay in the top division.”

The overmatched Roman gladiators resisted valiantly in the first half of the Colisee encounter.

The Czech offence clicked just 41 seconds in, as Martin Erat got to the front of Italian goalie Gunther Hell’s net to finish off a neat passing play involving Elias and Kaberle.

But the Italians had an answer just 18 seconds later when Luca Ansoldi cheekily fired the puck through Czech netminder Marek Pinc’s legs on an offensive zone faceoff. It was a move you’d associate more with Mario Lemieux. And at 3:06, Nicola Fontanive barreled down left wing, cut in, and pounded a slapper over Pinc’s glove.

A minute later, the Czechs evened the score again. Vrbata cut in from the right side, tried a centering pass that bounced back to him, moved into the slot and knifed a backhand past Hell to tie it 2-2.

Shortly afterwards, forward Tomas Rolinek fell awkwardly next to the Czech bench and had to be helped off by the trainer and teammate Zbynek Michalek.

The Czechs carried the play for the rest of the opening stanza, but the Italians hung tight. Hell made a great stick save at close range off Vrbata with under two minutes left in the opening stanza.

It couldn’t last. Zidlicky put the Czechs up 3-2 at 1:29 of the second period when his power play one-timer from the left faceoff circle zipped through Hell’s five-hole.

The Italians continued to play tenaciously despite being outshot, but that wouldn’t be enough.

Just past the halfway point, Vrbata was left alone in the faceoff circle, and zinged a high wrister under the crossbar to give the Czechs a two-goal edge.

Working a late second-period man advantage, Elias finished off a beautiful give-and-go with Kaberle to put the game out of reach. And Filip Kuba’s low, hard drive squeaked over the line to make it 6-2 at 19:03.

When Jaroslav Hlinka made it 7-2 at 3:53 of the third period, Hell was replaced by Thomas Tragust for the rest of the night.

This was ultimately much like other Czech-Italian encounters of the new millennium, including Czech wins of 9-2 (2000) and 11-0 (2001).

“We started well, but we just couldn’t do it,” said Ansoldi. “Our World Championship begins now, just like previous tournaments.”

The Czechs face the winner of the Sweden-Switzerland game to open the Qualifying Round on Thursday, and Italy’s Relegation Round struggle kicks off versus the loser of Belarus-France that day.

“We were playing against a really good team with outstanding passing,” said Italian coach Mickey Goulet. “Few teams in the world can move the puck like the Czechs do. Our group with the Czechs, Russia, and Denmark was tough.”

Asked about the possibility of facing France in relegation play, Goulet said: “We saw France play against Sweden, and they played outstanding hockey in the first period. We always have tight games against them.”





1 y - MTL 82 50 22 10 214 184 110
2 x - TBL 82 50 24 8 259 206 108
3 x - DET 82 43 25 14 231 211 100
4 x - OTT 82 43 26 13 232 208 99
5 BOS 82 41 27 14 209 201 96
6 FLA 82 38 29 15 198 213 91
7 TOR 82 30 44 8 206 257 68
8 BUF 82 23 51 8 153 269 54


P. Bergeron 81 23 32 2 55
L. Eriksson 81 22 25 1 47
M. Lucic 81 18 26 13 44
C. Soderberg 82 13 31 10 44
B. Marchand 77 24 18 5 42
D. Hamilton 72 10 32 -3 42
R. Smith 81 13 27 7 40
T. Krug 78 12 27 13 39
D. Krejci 47 7 24 7 31
C. Kelly 80 7 21 6 28
T. Rask 34 21 13 .922 2.30
N. Svedberg 7 5 1 .918 2.33
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