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2022 World Junior Hockey Championship: Germany vs. Czechia highlights: I’ve got a Blank space, baby

Alexander Blank has both goals, including the overtime winner, as Germany gets a critical win.

Germany v Czechia: Preliminary Round Group A - 2022 IIHF World Junior Championship Photo by Codie McLachlan/Getty Images

After a tough loss to the Canadian team on the first night, Czechia was looking to regroup and get into the win column against Germany. While the Czechs took advantage of the Canadians early mistakes, they were unable to match Owen Power’s hat trick as they dropped the contest 6-3. Germany has put together a sneaky good squad in recent tournaments, but lack a real star threat this year, making them an ideal rebound opponent for Jan Myšák and Czechia.

In the early moments it looked like the Czechs might overrun the Germans, but goaltender Florian Bugl remained composed in his crease to deny Czechia any early breakthroughs as the team in front of him tried to find their legs. That calmness in the crease paid off as the Germans began to find their game through quick counters against an oppressive Czech attack.

Eventually those quick counter attacks turned into more extended shifts as the period neared its end, and with that pressure the Germans drew a tripping penalty against David Moravec. Despite being shorthanded, the Czechs almost immediately became the more dangerous team during the German power play, generating a pair of shorthanded breaks. The second odd-man rush resulted in Florian Elias hooking Jan Myšák as the Czech captain tried to slam home a pass right on Bugl’s doorstep.

With an abbreviated power play of their own to end the first period the Czechs swarmed, but Bugl again held his ground to make sure both sides entered the first intermission scoreless.

The Germans started the second strongly by killing off the remainder of the Czech power play, and shortly after that they found their best scoring chance of the game. Luca Muzenberger found himself on a clean breakaway, but a slight bobble of the puck allowed Jan Bednar to battle the puck away safely. That save by Bednar turned into an odd-man rush for the Czechs in short order, and again Florian Bugl blockered away the chance to keep Czechia off the board. Bugl’s strong start finally paid dividends as the Germans opened up the scoring.

Maciej Rutkowski drove hard to the net, then held up before leaving a pass off for Alexander Blank. Even with the run of play fully against them, Blank banked a shot off of Bednar’s shoulder to give Germany a stunning lead early in the second period.

Blank’s goal changed the entire tone of the game, the Germans became the more aggressive side, hammering the Czech defence through the middle of the zone, and controlling the puck more. While on the other side the Czechs were settling for one-off counters, all of which were handled with aplomb by Bugl who continued to frustrate opposing shooters.

Jan Myšák continued his strong game though, drawing a tripping penalty, and giving Czechia a golden opportunity to tie the game up and halt some of the German momentum late in the second period. It was Myšák who ended up finishing off the power play too, as he worked low towards the goal line, looking to fire a pass across the royal road. He attempted to do so, but Arkadiuz Dziambor kicked his skate out to try and stop that pass, however the German accidentally directed the puck by Bugl to tie the game up.

Much like the first German goal, the Czech goal brought some momentum roaring back the other way as Czechia looked to add another goal before the period ended. Bugl bounced back well as the German defence also blocked multiple attempts on net to ensure the game entered the second intermission tied.

In the early going the Germans found themselves on another power play as Maksymilian Szuber dangled around Stanislav Svozil and drew a tripping call in the process. The German power play was less than desirable as the best chance of the advantage again fell to the Czechs as Ivan Ivan broke in alone shorthanded. Ivan’s chance was a good one, but a fortuitous bounce off of Bugl’s pads kept the puck from crossing the line and kept the game tied at one.

The Czechs continued to play with fire as they went to the box for a second time in the period, however the German power play woes continued as they weren’t able to threaten Jan Bednar with many quality chances before their power play expired.

Thanks to the incredible play of both Jan Bednar and Florian Bugl, the game ended regulation tied, and headed to the first overtime of the tournament. It didn’t take long for the steadfast German team to find the back of the net in the extra period and secure a massive win to start their tournament. Alexander Blank flew into the zone down the wing, and despite having next to no angle, he wired a shot over Bednar to secure a hard-fought German victory.

Both teams are off tomorrow, but are in action on Wednesday as the Czechs face a massive test against Finland, while the Germans are set to square off with Canada in an uphill battle of their own.