It’s not every day that a miracle occurs in the “cauldron” of Prague

It’s not every day that a miracle occurs in the “cauldron” of Prague
Almost 18,000 people went wild: Jakub Flek scored to make it 3-0 for the Czech Republic.

Anyone who was longing for the next miracle after the ice hockey sensations against Canada (winning a point after being 1:6 behind) and Finland (3:2 win) was a bit disappointed. Even though Austria’s team boss Roger Bader had put on his lucky green tie of hope again, the favorite was on the longer end. The Czech Republic retained the upper hand in Prague 4-0 (1-0, 2-0, 1-0) and is on course for the World Cup quarter-finals.

For the red-white-red team, the mission is still to stay in the league. She has her first match puck on Sunday (4:20 p.m., ORF Sport+) against Norway – in a duel at eye level.

“You can tell that the Czech Republic is an ice hockey-crazy country,” Lukas Haudum from Linz emphasized before the opening face-off. The striker is absolutely right. When the host enters the mighty O2 Arena, the bear dances. Disco music, clapping orgies, drummers with trumpets, flags as far as the eye can see, deafening noise – with around 18,000 fans behind you, it’s all happening here. Especially when “The train has no brakes” blares from the loudspeakers in the Mallorcastyle edition. Then the Czech cracks, who came here to win gold, seem to gain even more momentum.

“New day, new game”

The first ten minutes were characterized by constant pressure, the 1-0 for the six-time world champion 27.2 seconds before the first break came from a counterattack. After an intervention by Clemens Unterweger, the Finnish referees (hardly) decided on a penalty, which Ondre Kase didn’t miss and shot past the strong ÖEHV goalie David Madlener with an elegant hook (20th).

Shortly before, the defensively well-organized and pinprick-oriented Austrians, who came onto the ice with the memory of a glorious 2-1 victory after a penalty shootout over the Czech Republic at the 2022 World Cup in Tampere, had a really good phase – of course accompanied by one shrill whistle concert. True to the motto: “Nobody should dare to beat our Czechs.”

Switzerland has already achieved this in Prague, Austria was on the right track in the second section. Paul Huber wasn’t even a paddle’s width from 1:1 (29th), the game was completely open in this phase. But only until the 36th minute, when David Kubalik took advantage of a 4-3 advantage to make it 2-0 for the Czech Republic.

Afterwards the stands shook and the fans danced their joy out of their legs. And they didn’t stop there because just 64 seconds later Jakub Flek – again in the power play – made it 3-0 (37th). This train actually had no brakes.

Nevertheless, the score was a bit too high in this phase. Austria would have deserved more. But the fact is what appears on the hyper-modern video cube. And there it read 4-0 (42nd), goalscorer David Tomasek.

“New day, new game, new opportunity,” says NHL star Marco Rossi: “We have to leave what was behind us.” And focus on Norway. So to the opponent who won the last four World Cup duels with Austria – 3:2 after extra time (2007), 5:0 (2011), 5:3 (2019) and 5:3 (2022).

What catches the eye are Mats Zuccarello, Rossi’s NHL club colleague at the Minnesota Wild, and old master Patrick Thoresen, who wants to know it again at 40. “This is a good international, unpleasant team with a strong first block. But we are confident that we can beat them,” said Bader.

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