International Ice Hockey Federation

Jagr inspires Czech win

Jagr inspires Czech win

Latvian penalties lead to 4-2 loss

Published 03.05.2015 00:54 GMT+2 | Author Andrew Podnieks
Jagr inspires Czech win
PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC - MAY 2: The Czech Republic's Jaromir Jagr #68 with a scoring chance against Latvia's Edgars Maslaskis #31 while Gunars Skvorcovs #73 defends and Aleksandrs Jerofejevs #23 battles with Martin Erat #91 during preliminary round action at the 2015 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship. (Photo by Andre Ringuette/HHOF-IIHF Images)
Three numbers stand out from today's 4-2 Czech win over Latvia: 68, Jaromir Jagr's sweater number; 43, Jagr's age; 25, the age he looks like on ice.

Two other numbers: 18:11, Jagr's ice time; and, 6, the number of shots he took, most of which were good chances.

With the goal Jagr is the oldest player to score a goal in the IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship. The oldest to play in a World Championship was Belgian Fernand Carez, who was 43 years and 114 days old in 1949.

The Czechs rallied to score three goals in the second period. As well, they scored three goals on the power play, one by Jagr. Jan Kovar also had a goal and two assists for the victors.

"Obviously the first win of the tournament is always huge," said Jakub Voracek. "It wasn’t an easy game. They were skating pretty hard for 25, 30 minutes. I think they ran out of gas a little bit in the second half."

"This was a very tough game for us," admitted Jan Hejda. "Playing against Latvia is like a must-win, but they have a very good team. They play together basically the whole season, these players. Obviously we are all happy to beat them."

Life doesn’t get easier for the Latvians. Their record is now 0-2, and they will play Sweden on Monday. The Czechs, now 1-1 in the tournament, also have tomorrow off before a much-anticipated showdown with Canada on Monday night.

Latvia came out and played a flawless first period of sorts. It won the period, 1-0, but that score was something of a misnomer. The Czechs had the overwhelming margin of play and were by far the better team, but the Latvians played smart defence and did so without taking  a penalty.

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In fact, the only two power plays were the result of Czech fouls, and the first one proved costly. Jagr took a tripping penalty behind his own net, and the Latvians capitalized.

Captain Kaspars Daugavins took a pass up the middle, and his weak backhand from the slot beat Alexander Salak at 13:13. It was a poor goal to give up, to be sure, and at the other end Edgars Masalskis was calm and flawless in the net.

The Latvians weathered the incredible fan support for their opponents and left he ice with an impressive, albeit tenuous, one-goal lead.

A wild and thrilling middle period produced four goals, three to the Czechs. They tied the game at 2:01 when Michal Jordan took a quick wrist shot from the point that somehow flew past half a dozen bodies en route. Masalskis didn’t have a chance on it.

Just 77 seconds later, though, Latvia regained the lead. Mikelis Redlihs ripped a shot from the top of the circle that fooled Salak, a goal that clearly frustrated coach Vladimir Ruzicka, who made a goalie change and brought in Ondrej Pavelec.

Another minute later, the Czechs tied the game again when Jan Kovar’s quick shot beat Masalskis to the short side.

Midway through the period, that Latvian discipline suffered a setback when Kristaps Sotnieks took a major penalty (and game misconduct) for a spear to the groin of a Czech player. On the ensuing power play Jagr got his second goal in as many games, giving the Czechs their first lead, 3-2, at 12:44.

"That power play helped us," acknowledged Jakub Voracek. "We know what to do on the power play. We didn’t panic. We created momentum. We put a lot of shots on the net. It was really important for us."

In the third, there was more trouble as the Latvians were down two men for 67 seconds. Jakub Voracek scored at 5:29 when he had the whole back side of the net to shoot at. The goal came just as one of the penalties expired.

That was all the scoring the Czechs needed, and the sold-out crowd went into party mode, cheering heartily the rest of the way and even breaking out the wave.

"It was a pretty good game, but we didn’t find a way to win the game," said Latvian Lauris Darzins. "I think the five-minute penalty was kind of a turning point. We didn’t kill that penalty. We allowed a goal, and I think that gave them momentum and they won the game."


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