The return of Mathias From heralded the arrival of some potentially lethal offence to a Danish team that managed to hang on and defeat Finland in regulation.
Denmark surrendered six shots early to the Czech Republic, spending lots of time in their own zone, but the strong team defence of the Danes and the continued strong play of Lasse Petersen kept the score tied at 0-0 through the first five minutes.
The shots continued to escalate rapidly for the Czech Republic, and misfortune struck the Danes, as the puck got put across the goal line as they made the attempt to smother it. The goal was awarded to Martin Necas about a minute later at the next stoppage.
The Czech Republic took a penalty for too many men about half way through the period, and Denmark had the chance to tie it up. However, they had the same difficulties on the man advantage that plagued them in their previous two games. However, they got a second chance immediately afterwards as Daniel Krenzelok took a delay of game for taking the net off it’s moorings as he chased Joachim Blichfeld who got in all alone. The second attempt on the man advantage faired no better, giving up a shot almost immediately, and then giving up another strange goal. However, it was called off on a distinct kicking motion by Lukas Jasek.
With just a minute thirty left in the period, From went down after a big hit, and laboured off the ice, and shortly thereafter Christian Mieritz also appeared to be in some distress on the bench.
At the end of one, the Czech Republic led 1-0, and From and Mieritz’s situations did not look promising.
Good news began the second period for Denmark, as both Mieritz and From returned to the ice to start the frame.
The Danes got their third power play of the game, and this time it actually looked more or less like a power play instead of an unmitigated disaster. Immediately afterwards, William Boysen took a slashing penalty, and Denmark went to the penalty kill for the first time in the contest. The Danish penalty kill — the last to remain perfect in the tournament — proved up to the task, and Denmark got a power play of their own. This time they got a shot, and maintained possession in the offensive zone much more effectively, and Blichfeld put the puck past Daniel Vladar for their best looking power play of the tournament with assists going to William Boysen and Oliver Larsen.
Unfortunately, the tie was not destined to last long, as Filip Hronek gave them the 2-1 lead less than two minutes later on the Czechs’ second shot of the period. Denmark was sent to the penalty box again for boarding this time, but the penalty kill remained, astoundingly, perfect.
Denmark pressured after the penalty kill, maintaining some steady offensive zone pressure for several shifts, and accumulating a few more much needed shots.
Rasmus Andersson took a bad roughing penalty, but the Danish penalty kill reached 10/10, and the Danes escaped the period down only 2-1, and only outshot by seven.
The third period began well for Denmark, as they maintained some offensive zone pressure early on. Oliver Gatz took a holding penalty about six minutes into the period for their fourth of the game. Petersen made a few saves, as well as a fantastic poke-check, and Denmark’s penalty kill improved to 11/11.
Nikolaj Krag tied up the game with just six minutes left in the third, as the Czech Republic made the mistake of leaving him all alone in front of the crease, and Blichfeld gave him the perfect cross-crease pass.
Petersen made a huge save about a minute later to keep the game tied, and Denmark continued to press the attack shift after shift as time ticked away.
Neither team was able to get the go-ahead in the final minutes, and the game went to overtime.
Less than a minute into over time, Mathias From scored an absolutely beautiful goal giving Denmark five points in the tournament, and their first ever second win.
OT-winner for Denmark over Czech Republic. Great goal, great celly pic.twitter.com/mDpwprmMIz— Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) December 29, 2016
The pressure is now on for Finland.
Denmark faces their rivals of two years on December 30th when the face off against Switzerland, and the Czech Republic will see Sweden on New Year’s Eve.
- Denmark’s penalty kill is the last in the competition, remaining a perfect 11/11 through three games.
- The collective defence of Denmark remains one of their strongest assets in this tournament, as they continue to take away passing and shooting lanes in their own zone in a masterful fashion.
- Canada continues to embrace the Danish team, which was especially evident when Alexander True was tripped up by a Czech player, and the Bell Centre erupted in outrage on the no-call.
- I thought Denmark was going to be good this year. I did not expect them to be THIS good.