Bucek-ing the trend!
Bucek-ing the trend!
Slovaks rally to edge Czechs for third in group
Tuesday’s result sets up a quarter-final clash between the Slovaks and Sweden on Thursday. The fourth-place Czech Republic will play the defending champion Americans, who finished first in Group A.
Samuel Bucek scored the winner with 3:27 remaining. It was his team-leading fourth goal of the tournament.
This was a wild affair that saw Slovak captain Samuel Solensky awarded two penalty shots. He converted on the second one early in the third period.
The Czechs had a super start when Marek Zachar opened the scoring just 1:18 in. But two minutes later, Adam Liska tied it up for Slovakia.
Jiri Karifiat put the Czechs back on top at 12:22. They appeared to have the game well in hand when 16-year-old phenom Filip Zadina made it 3-1 with his team-best fourth goal 43 seconds into the middle frame.
But the Slovaks weren’t done. Smolensky had indicated before this game that he thought his team had a 50/50 chance against their rivals, and his words were borne out.
First, Peter Bjaloncik cut the lead to 3-2 when he scored a shorthanded goal for Slovakia at 15:01 of the second period.
Then, Solensky got a penalty shot 41 seconds before the buzzer when he was hooked by Czech defenceman David Kvasnicka. But he couldn’t capitalize on his attempt.
The Slovak captain atoned for that omission when he got his second penalty shot at 2:09 of the third period. This time, after getting slashed by Lukas Doudera, he made no mistake and it was 3-3. That set the stage for Bucek’s winner. The celebration was on for coach Peter Mikula’s crew.
Both teams struggled on the power play, failing to convert despite Slovakia’s eight minor penalties and the Czech Republic’s five.
Slovakia’s all-time World U18 record against the Czechs improved to four wins, one tie, and five losses. The previous Slovak win over the Czechs was 2-1 in the quarter-finals on April 19, 2003. The Slovaks had their best run ever that year, claiming silver with a 3-0 final loss to Canada.
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