Draisaitl winner as Europe down Czechs in World Cup of Hockey
LEON Draisaitl scored in overtime as Europe upset the Czech Republic 3-2 at the World Cup of Hockey on September 19 to hand the United States a must-win battle with Canada to stay in the competition.
Edmonton’s German star Draisaitl scored on a breakaway after two minutes, six seconds of overtime at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto to maintain Europe’s unbeaten record in Group A.
The result leaves the United States side – beaten 3-0 by Europe on September 17 – clinging to stay in the competition, where a defeat to Canada in last night’s match would see them eliminated.
Europe coach Ralph Krueger – the Canadian-born former Germany international who is now the chair of English Premier League soccer side Southampton – said his team had always been confident of progressing in the tournament despite being rank outsiders with Las Vegas bookmakers.
“Coming in here at 33-1 longshot, the Las Vegas bookies, it’s a lot of fun,” Krueger said.
“There’s just complete buy-in on this group – I’ve never experienced anything quite like this as a coach in 25 years of head coaching. We’re tight, and we’re not done.”
Europe dominated the Czechs from the outset, leading twice before Draisaitl’s late winner. The Europeans took a 2-1 lead in the third period after Czech goalie Petr Mrazek fumbled a shot from Mats Zuccarello, the Norwegian winger who plays for the New York Rangers.
Until then, Detroit Red Wings goalie Mrazek had frustrated Europe with a superb display of defiance, saving 33 shots before Zuccarello’s long-range effort crept in.
The Czechs came back to level on a power play later when Martin Hanzal swept home a rebound after a point shot from Vladimir Sobotka.
The late flurry of goals came after a cagey opening and allowed Europe to take control of the tempo in the second period, peppering Mrazek’s goal with 21 shots.
The opener came from Slovakian defenseman Zdeno Chara, the Boston Bruins player catching out Mrazek as the Czech goalie scrambled to recover his stick.
It was a rare blemish by Mrazek, who also saved a penalty shot by Europe centre Anze Kopitar during the second period onslaught.
Jakub Voracek scored the Czechs’ opening goal, beating Jaroslav Halak with a snap shot from the right.
In the other September 19 game, Russia were given a fright by a youthful North America in Group B.
The North American team, made up of players who are 23 and under from the United States and Canada, took a 1-0 lead in the first period thanks to an Auston Matthews strike, but Russia took control in the second period, scoring four goals. –
Sergei Bobrovsky of Team Russia defends against Dylan Larkin of Team North America in a September 19 World Cup of Hockey match in Toronto, Canada. Team Russia won 4-3.