The first game of the day in Helsinki, Finland saw Belarus take a surprise 3-2 lead after 40 minutes of play, but it wasn’t enough as the Czech Republic would hold on for the 5-3 victory.
As expected, the first ten minutes of the game didn’t feature a whole lot of action. With Belarus already heading to the relegation round and with the Czech’s employing a pretty strong defensive trap, both teams played a very safe start to the hockey game. The Czech’s were without scoring star Pavel Zacha, who the team decided to keep out for precautionary reasons after suffering a minor injury against Russia in the opening game. With Zacha out of the lineup, the team was going to focus on keeping the puck away from their zone, but even then, Vitek Vanecek was heading into the game with just one goal against after two contests.
The scariest moment of the period came with about seven minutes left in the frame. While trying to chase a loose puck in the corner, Belarus first liner Danila Karaban was clipped by a skate on an innocent play. The Czech players skate clipped the top of his forehead, taking him out of the game for a bit after dropping a fair amount of blood.
With about four minutes left in the period, the Czech’s managed to take the 1-0 lead. 2016 NHL Draft prospect Simon Stransky would score on a great play after taking the puck from his own zone and coming in on a 2-on-1, beating Ivan Kulbakov easily short side after the Belarussian goalie struggled with his save selection choice.
Belarus looked like a much better team in the second, managing to take the 2-1 lead in a surprise twist of fate. Stepan Falkovskiy was the star of the contest, creating both goals in the best period of the tournament for the team that’s destined for the relegation round. First, the Ottawa 67’s defenseman made a tremendous play to streak down the ice and beat the Czech defenders, firing it over Vanecek with a quick deke to make it 1-1 just 43 seconds into the period. Then, before the period was half over, Falkovskiy made a great pass over to Yegor Sharangovich, who tipped the puck in between the legs of Vanecek to give the team their second lead of the tournament.
Two minutes after, however, the Czech’s brought the game back to a tie. Boston Bruins prospect David Pastrnak would create the play, firing the shot hard towards the Belarus net. Dominik Lakatoš was in a perfect spot to tip in the shot, just tapping it in the air to deflect the puck glove side past Kulbakov to make it 2-2.
Belarus did a very good chance of limiting the Czech’s chances at tying things back up, but they couldn’t do it forever. With eight minutes to go in Helsinki, Jiri Smejkal made a rush to the front of the net after a chance from Michael Spacek and jammed the puck home, making it 3-3 while holding on to a bit of momentum.
As the Belarussians have proven in this tournament, they can only rely on Kulbakov for so long before things go wrong. The team was surely out of gas in the final minutes, making it very clear after Radek Vesely turned a Spacek feed into the 4-3 lead with 5:40 remaining in the game. It was good enough for the Czech’s to secure the extra three points, with an extra goal by Dominik Masin sealing the deal for the 5-3 victory.
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