The Czech 18-team team will play the hockey world championship in Switzerland on Thursday. Slovakia awaits her at 18:30. Coach Jakub Petr’s men are defending their fourth place from last year, which they will try to improve even more. If they succeed, they will end their medal fast that has lasted since the 2014 silver.
In preparation for the tournament, the Czechs beat Latvia 4:2, but then lost to the United States in the general round by a huge 2:9.
Even their entire season so far is uneven, with good tournaments alternating with bad ones.
Therefore, coach Petr did not want to publicly announce any goal for the championship. “We’ve been talking about it all season – this year has a lot of potential. I think it can be great and we’ll have some success, but it can also be a total screw-up. And the guys know that,” the coach said.
“We are not better than any team at the World Cup. At the same time, we are hammering into the boys’ heads that we can beat anyone. We will not go into the tournament as favorites, but we will certainly not go there as underdogs either,” emphasized Petr.
“During the preparation, we encountered a number of obstacles, but I am still an optimist. And as my coaching colleague says – success is born in blood, sweat and pain,” he added.
“I definitely agree with the coach,” said defender Jakub Dvořák about the fact that the tournament may have ended in success for the Czechs, but also in failure.
“We have a great team to surprise the entire republic. On the other hand, if we have breakdowns like in Monday’s preparation against the USA, it can be a problem, we have to avoid them,” appealed the quarterback.
Dvořák has already played 24 games for the extra-league side Liberec. He is one of eight Czech players who have tasted the highest domestic competition in the current year. Roughly a third of the team consists of reinforcements from abroad.
The team should mainly be led by goalkeeper Michael Hrabal, defenders Adam Jiříček and Jakub Dvořák, who will be the captain, or his assistants from attack Eduard Šalé and Dominik Petr, the coach’s son.
“Everyone has a role and everyone knows why they’re here, why they’re going to spend time here and what they’re supposed to do when they get on the ice. We have 23 knights and warriors here. And I’m confident that each one of them will do everything for that , may we succeed in fulfilling that secret goal,” said Petr.
After the match against the Slovaks, the Czechs will challenge Germany on Saturday (5:00 p.m.), the defending champion Sweden (5:00 p.m.) the day after, and will finish their appearance in the group on Tuesday, April 25, against Canada (6:30 p.m.).
Group B consists of USA, Finland, Latvia, Norway and home Switzerland. The Americans defend silver, the Finns bronze.
The best four teams from each group advance to the quarter-finals of the play-off, the hockey players of the last two teams will battle it out for retention.
Even taking into account the strength of the Swedes, who were on the podium four times in a row and won gold twice, or Canada, who won the year before, it is absolutely essential for the Czech team to immediately enter the tournament.
“We have six quarters with Slovakia and Germany and everyone thinks it will be a walk in the park, but it will definitely not be. My job is to make the boys understand that, because those six quarters will decide our performance in the tournament. They are terrible important matches that will best answer our situation,” noted Petr.
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