The Czech senior and junior national teams are both involved in international tournaments this weekend, and both stopped first in České Budějovice before moving elsewhere.
Thursday night, the senior national team took on Sweden in the opening game of the Karjala Cup; part of the Euro Hockey Tour. Things went well early, as first period goals from Petr Hubáček and Jakub Klepiš gave the home side a 2-1 lead. When Roman Červenka, who plays for Avangard Omsk of the KHL, made it 3-1 with a perfect wrist shot in the opening minute of the third period, it looked like the Czechs might escape with the victory despite being outshot.
But Robert Nilsson brought the Swedes to within one, despite protests from goaltender Jakub Štěpánka that he was high sticked on the play (video replays support his claim). Late in the third, the Czechs found themselves two men short and Sweden made them pay double. Mattias Ekholm tied the game on a 5-on-3 with 5:25 to play and then just 22 seconds later, with Sweden still up a man, Niklas Nordgren scored the winner.
In other Karjala Cup action Thursday, Russia blanked Finland 1-0 in Helsinki. The rest of the four-team round-robin tournament will be played in the Finnish capital on Saturday and Sunday.
The Czech U20 team took in the action from the stands on Thursday and then took to the ice Friday night against Russia in the opener of their own four-team tournament. A hat trick from Slavia Praha's Dmitrij Jaškin helped the Czechs to a 6-3 victory, with singles coming from Jakub Jeřábek, David Tůma, and Rostislav Marosz.
Like their senior counterparts, the juniors are also leaving South Bohemia after their opening game, heading to Karlovy Vary for the remainder of the tournament, which also involves Sweden and Finland.
The players on this Czech U20 team are auditioning for the team that will play in the World U20 Championships in Buffalo, NY this December and January. That squad will also include players that are currently playing in North American junior leagues.