The Czechs will face Switzerland for the right to advance to the 2018 Olympic Winter Games women's ice hockey tournament. Photo: PPR / Manuel Lopez
Set up huge finale against Swiss
The Czech Republic and Switzerland will play for the right to advance to the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in PyeongChang, Korea.
The Czechs put away a pesky Danish team 4-3 on Saturday evening at the Women’s Final Olympic Qualification, and will now face the tournament hosts in a winner-take-all game tomorrow.
"We didn't expect ths game was going to be so hard, we didn't play our game at all and didn't make good decisions with the puck," said Tereza Vanisova. "I think we needed a tough game like this and hopefully we can be better prepared now for tomorrow."
Coming into the game at the bottom of Group C, the Danes were hoping to play the spoiler role against the Czechs, who needed a win to keep pace with the tournament-leading Swiss.
Denmark gave their higher-ranked opponents all they could handle, hanging around on the scoresheet all game and cutting the lead down to one goal midway through the third with a goal from Amalie Anderson.
But the Czechs were able to hold off Denmark the rest of the way, setting up the clash with Switzerland.
"We were really nervous the whole game, but I think it was good that we know we can coem to a game, work hard and finish every shift," said forward Katerina Mrazova.
"We played a really good game, we stuck together and did what we had to do," said Danish captain Henriette Ostergaard, whose team will play Norway in theri final game. "We played hard and we skated hard. We need now to prepare for Norway and put this game past us."
Denmark struck first with an early 5-on-3 opportunity, and the underdogs went ahead as Josefine Jacobsen fired a shot that was deflected in front by Michelle Brix for the opening goal several minutes into the game.
But the Czechs came back with a goal from Vendula Prybilova, who cut in from the right circle towards the net and sent a wristshot from the high slot past goaltender Lisa Jensen for the tying goal going into the first intermission.
Early in the second period, a bad stroke of luck for the Dane saw defenceman Josefine Asperup inexplicably launch the puck towards Jensen, catching her goalie unawares as the puck bounced into the net giving the Czechs the 2-1 lead.
Then with eight and a half minutes remaining and the Czechs on a man advantage, Samantha Kolowratova gained possession at the point and let a shot right through Jensen for the 3-1 lead.
But the Danes weren’t ready to call it quits, taking advantage of a two-on-one rush which ended on the stick of Josefine Persson cutting the lead back down to one. But soon after the Czechs replied with their own odd-man rush, Prybilova firing a shot from the side of the net that Jensen couldn’t control and went in through the five-hole, giving the Czech forward her second goal of the game.
The Czech Republic now moves to 2-0, the same record as tournament hosts Switzerland, their next opponent and the team they need to get through in order to qualification for PyeongChang 2018.