June 23rd, 2024

Czech Republic downs Sweden 7-3 to reach world ice hockey final

By Karel Janicek, The Associated Press on May 25, 2024.

PRAGUE (AP) – The Czech Republic produced a three-goal second period as it downed Sweden 7-3 and advanced to the final of the ice hockey world championship on Saturday for the first time since 2010.

Forward Dominik Kubalik and Lukas Sedlak scored two goals apiece and added an assist each, while forward Martin Necas had a four-point game with a goal and three assists.

David Kampf and Ondrej Kase had a goal and an assist each for the Czechs and goaltender Lukas Dostal stopped 36 shots in front of the roaring home fans at Prague Arena.

The Czechs next face defending champion Canada or Switzerland, who play later on Saturday.

“I play my best game when I enjoy myself at a game and here I’m enjoying it for 110%,” Necas said. “It was always my dream to play a semifinal and final in front of the Czech fans. But it’s not a job done, not yet. We have the most important match ahead of us tomorrow and we need to be ready.”

Necas became the first player with four points in the semifinal of the tournament since Canada’s Luc Robitaille in 1994.

Marcus Johansson, Marcus Pettersson and Joel Eriksson scored for the Swedes, whose eight-game winning run in the tournament came to an end.

“We felt like we had some opportunities but it’s tough when you give up so many goals,” Pettersson said.

The Czechs jumped 5-2 ahead in the second period after the teams were tied at 2-2.

Kase gave the Czechs a 3-2 advantage from close range 6:05 in the period, and that was the first time the Swedes trailed in the tournament.

Necas doubled the advantage with a one-timed slap shot from the slot after Kampf won a faceoff 16 seconds later. Kubalik then made it 5-2 with a one-timer from the right circle that went between the pads of goaltender Filip Gustavsson.

The goalie was pulled after letting in five goals from 17 shots and replaced by Samuel Ersson.

Joel Eriksson reduced the Czech lead to 5-3 on a power play with his seventh goal of the tournament.

Sweden piled on the pressure in the third period but Sedlak stretched the lead to 7-3 with two breakaway goals, both going between the pads of Ersson.

“They were mentally stronger than we were today,” Sweden captain Erik Karlsson said. “They scored on pretty much all of the opportunities they got,” the star defenseman said.

Johansson picked up the puck near the boards on the right before scoring the opening goal 3:39 into the game.

Kubalik tied it at 7:48 on a rebound after a slap shot by Necas from the blue line.

The Swedes needed just 20 seconds to go 2-1 up through Pettersson, whose attempt from the left was deflected into the net by Czech defenseman Jakub Krejcik.

The Czechs answered again.

Necas set up the second by feeding Kampf from behind the goal to tie the game again at 2 all from the slot midway through the first.

___

AP sports: https://apnews.com/sports

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