Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Extraliga schedule reaches mid point

Vítkovice goalie Roman Málek raises his arms in celebration
as time expires against Třinec, lifting his team into first place.
The Tipsport Extraliga schedule reached its halfway point on Tuesday, with round 26 of 52 taking place. Actually, five of the 14 teams had already reached the halfway mark in games, including one that is fighting for top spot overall.

HC Vítkovice Steel and HC Ocelaří Třinec have been neck-and-neck for top spot for some time now, and on Tuesday they went head-to-head at ČEZ Arena in Ostrava (Vítkovice's home rink) in a first-place showdown. Both teams entered the game tied in points with 50, with Třinec holding a game in hand. 9,002, Vítkovice's largest home crowd of the season, turned out to watch their team win the game 3-2 and take over top spot in the Extraliga standings. After the teams swapped goals in the first eight minutes of the game, the home side struck twice in the second period, and then survived a late Třinec attack, in which they narrowed the lead late, but were unable to equalise.

Sparta's David Vyborný scores the shootout winner against Karlovy
Vary goaltender Lukáš Mensator. Photo courtesy Marek Mikeš.
In Karlovy Vary, HC Sparta Praha ended its six-game losing streak with a shootout victory. Energie was ahead 2-1 as the game approached its midway point, when Radek Smoleňák scored twice in under a minute, the second goal assisted by St. John's, NL's Doug O'Brien, to give Sparta a 3-2 lead. However, Ján Mucha tied the game with under nine minutes to play. After a scoreless overtime, David Vyborný netted the shootout winner, and the streak was over.

Radek Dlouhý scoring the OT winner, as Kometa fans behind
the goal get ready to celebrate. Photo courtesy Pavel Vrtiška.
In the nation's capital, HC Slavia Praha hosted HC Kometa Brno at O2 Arena. The game attracted a gate of 12,251, the largest crowd in the Extraliga so far this season, thanks to several thousand Brno fans who showed up to support the visitors. They witnessed Brno taking an early 2-0 advantage, only to have the home team storm back and take a 3-2 lead into the third period. Slavia almost held on for the victory, but Radim Hruška tied the game with less than two minutes remaining. Then, Radek Dlouhý scored in overtime to vault Brno into a third-place tie with Liberec, holding a game in hand.

Other scores:

HC Plzeň 1929 4-1 PSG Zlín
BK Mladá Boleslav 2-4 HC Eaton Pardubice
HC Vagnerplast Kladno 1-5 HC Benzina Litvínov
Bílí Tigři Liberec 3-1 HC Mountfield České Budějovice

Standings at the season's halfway point:

1 HC Vítkovice Steel 27 162
2 HC Ocelaří Třinec 26 13 3
5 5
3 HC Kometa Brno 26 14 219 47
4 Bílí Tigři Liberec 27 13 2
4 8
5 HC Eaton Pardubice 26 13 1
5 7
6 HC Energie Karlovy Vary 26 9 4
5 8
7 PSG Zlín27 10 3
4 10
8 HC Mountfield České Budějovice  26104
9 HC Benzina Litvínov26 111
2 12
10 HC Slavia Praha 26 8 5
1 12
11 HC Sparta Praha 28 5 5
2 16
12 HC Plzeň 1929 26 132
1 10
13 HC Vagnerplast Kladno 26 6 0
1 19
14 BK Mladá Boleslav 27 8 2
3 14

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