Drai­saitl win­ner as Europe down Czechs in World Cup of Hockey

The Myanmar Times - - Sport -

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. –

Photo: AFP

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.

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