An enthralling semi final saw Czech Republic hang on and advance to the gold medal game!
Penalties: 10:6, plus Guskov (RUS) 10 min - hrubost. PP goals: 0:0. SH goals: 0:0.
Referees: Hradil, Šír – Gebauer, Lederer. Attendance: 2895.
Russia were the better side early on and took a well-deserved lead; Daniel Diadenkin with a cute wrist-shot just before the seven minute mark. In truth it took the hosts aobut that long to really wake up into the game, and realise that they would need to forecheck hard and bring their bodies into play. However when they did get going the Czechs started flying and were duly rewarded with a goal - 12:45 on the board, Jan Jenik firing from the slot to tie the game.
The middle period was a hard slog for both teams, with the Czechs creating the better scoring opportunities. They took the lead early on, Jakub Lauko firing low from a tight angle not three minutes into the period to send the 2895 home fans wild. Really the home side should have extended their lead with a succession of good chances during the period, but the sides left the ice after 40 minutes with just a goal between them.
It was going to be a big challenge for the Czechs to defend a one goal lead for 20 minutes. Russia, playing with an extra man on the powerplay, had a great chance to equalise with just over ten minutes remaining - Daniel Zhuravliov shooting from point blank range and only a fantastic glove save from Lukas Dostal keeping the hosts ahead. Russia however remained on top, the home crowd sensing their team needed a lift and raising the volume. The Czechs however then had the perfect chance to not only relieve some pressure, but extend their lead - Russia already a man down, Zhuravliov then shot the puck over the plexi from inside his own zone to see his team reduced to three skaters. Credit to Russia, who blocked shots and threw their bodies in the shooting lanes to keep the Czechs at bay before the home side were eventually reduced a man themselves. With Zhuravliov back on the ice, Russia then had a 1:40 advantage of their own to try and level the scores - Damir Bilyalov ringing a shot off the crossbar as the Czechs eventually killed the penalty off. Russia would pull the goalie, but a late minor penalty meant it was to no avail - the Czech Republic held on to make the gold medal game!
Alexander Zybin (head coach, Team Russia): "Firstly, the ice wasn't great. We got a goal ahead, and then the referees seemed to see the game different. There were times when we had a powerplay, or should have had one, and ended up playing shorthanded. The Czechs had one player who was good, the rest just stayed in their positions. We weren't good, they just put the puck into the neutral zone and we didn't use it."
David Bruk (head coach, Team Czech Republic): "I cannot commend the boys enough, the game was just great. We stuck to our tactics, we played hard and our bench was on fire. We concentrated well, and the boys wanted win the game. We needed to play calmly, because we did not want too many goals in the game. The plan was to play organized in the neutral zone and we were. Our goalie played really well, as did everyone on the team. The Russians scored early but it didn't affect us. The end of the game was quite hectic, but in a game like that, you expect it to be a tight finish."