The Czech Republic had struggled throughout the Euro Hockey Tour campaign over the past two months, but after winning a two game exhibition series against the Russians, the team was finally given a reason to celebrate on home ice.
The Czech’s came into the EHT this past weekend with a winless record after two rounds. With the upcoming World Championships getting held at Prague Arena, the same venue that staged the two teams this weekend, there was a lot of pressure on a lot of bubble players looking to make the Czech roster prior to the big event.
The first game was dominated by the hometown team, who finished the contest with a 3-0 victory. Their second and final victory two days later was a much closer one, however, as a late goal gave the Czech’s the 4-3 win to sweep the weekend series. Not much was expected out of the Russians in this tournament, who’s roster featured many players that participated at the recent World Junior tournament. Regardless, their performance in the second game, featuring a roster with an average age of 23, proved that there is a lot to look forward to in Russian hockey over the next few seasons.
The second EHT tournament took place in Sweden, finishing with mixed reactions. The Finns were able to snag the first game by a score of 1-0, but the game in Vasteras had to be cancelled after 22:34 of action due to a hole in the ice surface. The second game would be more rewarding for the Tre Kronor, who got the game winning goal from 21-year-old national team rookie Martin Johansson to secure the 3-2 victory. The victory was bittersweet for the men in blue and yellow, however, who lost goaltender Markus Svensson, as well as Oskar Sundqvist and Dick Axelsson to injuries.
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