Sunday, January 23, 2011

Litvínov wins first with new coach, back in playoff hunt

Desperate times call for desperate measures.

Apologizing to the fans after Tuesday's dismal home-ice performance against Kometa Brno didn't work; on Thursday, Benzina Litvínov dropped its fourth in a row. Suddenly, on Sunday Litvínov hosted Plzeň 1929, a club they once had a comfortable lead over, whom they now trailed by four points for the final playoff spot. General manager Jiří Šlegr figured it was time to make a move. On Saturday, he fired coach Robert Reichel and then on Sunday named Vladimíř Kyhos his replacement. It's the second coaching change the team has made this season.

The visiting team from Plzeň came riding in on a high, winners of their last seven, climbing from 12th place into a tie for ninth in the process. But the further the game went along, the more frustrated they seemed to get by the positionally sound play of the home team; Kýhos had his team playing a solid team game. Finally, as the game approached its midway point, Viktor Hübel sent a wrist shot from the high slot through traffic that beat Luboš Horčička just inside the post to give Litvínov the 1-0 lead.

For the rest of the second and the first half of the third, nothing changed, but halfway through the third period Michal Trávníček caught Martin Heřman with a knee, which knocked the Plzeň winger out of the game. Trávníček's night was also finished, as he was given a major and game misconduct. Plzeň couldn't get much going for much of its five-minute power-play, however, until coach Marian Jelínek called a timeout to re-compose his troops. That seemed to help somewhat, as they managed to put on some sustained pressure in the last minute of the advantage, but couldn't score.

Plzeň's best two scoring chances came off the stick of Radek Duda. Late in the second, he just barely failed to get the puck up and over a fallen Martin Volke. Then, with only 30 seconds remaining on the clock, his backhander hit the bottom of the crossbar and bounced out.

With the win, Litvínov advances to within one point of Plzeň with a game in hand.

Other scores:

Slavia Praha 4-3 Vítkovice Steel
Energie Karlovy Vary 2-4 Kometa Brno
Eaton Pardubice 3-5 Bílí Tigři Liberec
Mountfield České Budějovice 2-1 Vagnerplast Kladno
PSG Zlín 2-1 BK Mladá Boleslav
Sparta Praha 3-5 Oceláři Třinec

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