Slovak hockey representatives triumphed in their second appearance at the World Championship in Ostrava and gained two points when they defeated Belarus on Sunday, thanks to two spectacular goals from defender Andrej Meszaros including the game winner in overtime. Slovakia now has four points in the preliminary round of the IIHF World Championship. Their first game was on Saturday, where they won 4-3 over Denmark in Group B. The captain of the Slovakian team is Tomas Kopecky (Florida Panthers). Kopecky assumed the role of captain after Zdeno Chara (Boston Bruins) was unable to represent his company in the World Championship when it was revealed that he had suffered a non-displaced fracture of his left fibula. The Slovakian team is well represented by other NHL players whose teams unfortunately did not make it into the playoffs in North America. Among those representing Slovakia include Marian Gaborik (LA Kings), Richard Panik (Toronto Maple Leafs), Andrej Meszaros (Buffalo Sabres) and Tomas Tatar and Tomas Jurco (both Detroit Red Wings) and Marko Dano (Columbus Blue Jackets).
The Slovaks have already played their reinforcements from Detroit Tomáš Tatar and Tomáš Jurčo, who arrived from the United States only the day before they hopped on the ice with their team in the Czech Republic. Perhaps it was the fatigue of flying, to which they admitted,s that caused them to be less than impressive in their first game.
After two scoreless periods, the sold-out ČEZ Arena saw the first goal after 52 minutes of play from Sergei Kostitsyn of Team Belarus, with assists attributed to Alexej Kaľužnyj and Andrea Kostitsyn. Slovak hockey players, however, tied the score thanks to Meszaros, who scored the equalizer just 64 seconds later who was assisted by Libor Hudáček and Vladimír Dravecký.
Slovakia with their Czech head coach Vladimir Vůjtek will have a day off with another game on Tuesday at 2.15PM against Slovenia. In Group B their next opponets will be Norway, Finland, Russia and the USA at the end.
As is standard with these games, the referees and linesmen were from countries not playing in the game. The referees were Timothy Mayer (USA) and Vladimir Šindler (Czech Republic) and the linesmen were Paul Carnathan (USA) and Jimmy Dahmen (Sweden). Team Belarus was called for four penalties while the Slovaks for five, though none of the power plays resulted in a goal, including the penalty shot that Gaborik was given in the first.
Belarus: Lalande (in net), Usenko, Korobov, Stasenko, Jevenko, Šinkevič, Lisovec, Ustinenko (defensemen), A. Kostitsyn Kaľužnyj, S. Kostitsyn (first line forwards) Gavrus, Stas, Drozd (second line forwards) Stepanov, Kovyršin, Kulakov (third line forwards) Demko Volkov, Kitaro (fourth line forwards), and Demagin.
Slovakia: Laco (in net), Meszaros, Graňák, Jurčina, Sersen, Ďaloga, Mikus, Janosik (defensemen) Dano, Kopecký, Gaborik (first line forwards) Panik, Bližňák, Bartovič (second line forwards) Jurčo, Viedensky, Tatar (third line forwards) L. Hudáček, Lušňák, Dravecký (fourth line forwards).
“The first goal in the national team tastes amazing. When we win, it is even better. I’m glad we got at least two points,” said Meszaros after the game. “Again, we did not give up and we fought until the end. We had a lot of chances, but their goalkeeper was excellent. We go on. We have to focus on the next game.“
“At the beginning it was hard for me, then it was better, but at the end I was tired. It was a tough first game, but I’m glad we did it,”Jurčo commented on his play postgame. “Belarusians were good defensively and for us it was difficult. We have tremendous strength, the perfect team on the ice it feels. ”
“I felt bad on the ice. By far, this was not the best game for me. I’m not surprised, I expected it. It was a difficult game, they fought, but the victory counted,” Tatar said postgame, talking also about what needs to change. “We did not score, although we had opportunities. These are the details we have to improve. The championship is still long. we have two points and I’m happy. We were positive on the bench, we have great leaders in the locker room. We have a day off, we need to relax and concentrate on the next game. “