In Sports News this Monday: the Czech national hockey team gets mixed results in first matches at worlds; will this year’s worlds be Jágr’s last?; football’s Sparta Prague demolish last-place Olomouc; Kvitová fails to reach final in Madrid.
The Ice Hockey World Championships began last Friday with the Czech Republic facing former compatriots Slovakia in their opener. Despite falling behind 2-1 the Czechs tied it with two minutes left in the third period. Veteran forward Jaromír Jágr scored the tying goal and Klepiš got the winner in overtime, rifling a slapshot past goalie Ján Laco.
In their second match on Sunday, the Czech squad was more convincing but let a 3-1 lead slip away. The Swedes forced overtime and penalty shots, which the defending champions won. The Czechs are currently fourth in their group, with three points in two overtime finishes. The squad faces Team Canada later on Monday.
In related news, coach Vladimír Růžička has made clear he is still not fully satisfied with how the team has performed: he praised the squad bestering Slovakia but suggested in defence and the neutral zone their game needed work. Růžička is still looking towards the NHL for reinforcements, including forward Tomáš Plekanec if the Montreal Canadiens fail to square their Stanley Cup playoff series against the Boston Bruins.
Jaromír Jágr has told TSN this year’s Worlds – his ninth – will be his last but fans and some commentators are taking his words with a grain of salt. The 42-year-old winger had an excellent season with New Jersey (with 24 goals and 43 assists and has resigned for one year). Given that next year’s worlds are taking place in Prague and Ostrava, there are plenty of fans who are hoping Jágr will play one last time, although the player almost certainly will be hoping come this time next year he’ll be competing for the Stanley Cup.
Celebrations at Sparta Prague, who have this year’s league title wrapped up after a four-year-drought, have ended for the time being, with work left to do. At the weekend, the club faced last-place Olomouc, facing relegation, and won with ease – a 5:0 romp which has put the club within reach of a setting a new record for points in a single season. The team has two matches remaining: Mladá Boleslav and second-place Viktoria Plzeň.
Czech women’s No.1 Petra Kvitová failed to reach the final at Madrid at the weekend, a tournament she won back in 2011. In her semi-final, Kvitová fought hard against Romania’s Simona Halep to win the first set in a tie-break, but then she lost momentum. The final score was 7:6, 3:6, 2:6. Halep lost the final against Maria Sharapova.