In Sports News: Hockey’s Vítkovice win a dramatic Game 4 to stay alive in the Extraliga hockey finals; in the NHL, goalie Vokoun blanks Washington; football’s Olomouc & Ústí continue downward slide; Petr Čech and Chelsea will have their work cut out for them in Champions League second-leg match against Manchester United.
Game 4 of the Extraliga finals between hockey clubs Třinec and Vítkovice couldn’t have been more dramatic, the latter with their backs against the wall and their mission clear: to either win their first game in the series or suffer a series sweep. A minute away from the end of the match, it looked like Vítkovice would indeed suffer the latter. Down by a score of 4:3, with an extra man on the ice, they were suddenly caught on the back foot as Třinec forward Peterka had a chance to score by firing at the empty net.
But he missed.
Within the same minute, Klimek scored the equaliser for Vítkovice, taking Game 4 to extra time and eventually penalty shots where Vítkovice triumphed, an amazing turn-around to a dramatic game. Vítkovice players were naturally thrilled – but there’s no denying they still have their work cut out for them at 3:1 in the series.
As for Třinec, so close to winning, here’s what the team’s coach Břetislav Kopřiva had to say:
“Twice we let Vítkovice tie the game and get back in the match and they got the momentum. From then on in they began to play really well and made it tough for us and we really had to push our players to keep pace. Of course we’re sorry to have lost victory in the final seconds but hockey is cruel sometimes. That’s the way it is. We have to forget about this match and play the next one as if it never happened.”
Peterka, the man who could have scored, meanwhile headed straight for the locker room after the final buzzer, refusing to talk to journalists; his teammates backed him up, saying situations like that could happen to anyone. Třinec now have a second chance to win the title on Tuesday.
The NHL regular season has wrapped-up with the playoffs beginning on Wednesday: one of those who will not be taking part, though, is Czech goalie Tomáš Vokoun who plays for the Florida Panthers. His team finished last in the Eastern Conference. Despite the team’s miserable record, Vokoun has shown good form: in the final match he turned away 28 shots by the powerhouse Washington Capitals, and helped his team to a 1:0 win.
Czech fans are elated that Vokoun, the Czech team’s starting goalie, was free to sign up for the upcoming Ice Hockey World Championship in Slovakia. The Czechs are the defending champions. Regarding Vokoun’s future with the Panthers: this season for the 35-year-old gaolie may have been his last as his contract runs out in the summer leaving him a free agent.
Czech football club Olomouc, who showed strong form earlier in the season, have failed to score in four straight games now. A 3:0 loss against Liberec at the weekend also saw the team fall from third to fifth spot in the standings. With 38 points they are now two points behind Mladá Boleslav. Players made clear the team is now fighting for a fourth spot finish to ensure at least a chance in playing in European club competitions.
In other matches, Mladá Boleslav beat Teplice 2:1 and last-place Ústí nad Labem continued their downward spiral, losing 2:0 to České Budějovice.
Monday will see the latest derby between Prague rivals Sparta and Slavia, although some warn it will be the last in a while, as Slavia are in danger of moving to the lower leagues due to serious financial difficulties. As a result, the usual tough talk ahead of the derby between the two Prague teams has been replaced by expressions of solidarity. Derbies played by the clubs since 1993 give Sparta a slight edge of 16:14. Over that period, the teams have tied five times.
London football club Chelsea – with goalkeeper Petr Čech – will face a decidedly uphill battle on Tuesday when they meet Manchester United for the second-leg match of their Champions League quarter-final. The Blues lost at home in the first-leg last week by a score of 1:0, after Wayne Rooney sent a sharp and unstoppable blast past Čech. Chelsea had chances of their own, including a missed opportunity by Frank Lampard, but were unable to get onto the scoreboard. The club will now have to try and score at least one away goal to tie or more to gain back the advantage on aggregate. Man United, playing at home at Old Trafford, though, clearly have the edge and will be tough to beat.
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