Monday, February 7, 2011

Třinec shuts out Liberec in first-place showdown

As the Extraliga schedule winds down, some of the games start to take added significance as the teams jockey for playoff positioning. Going into action Sunday, all teams had 4 games remaining. All 14 clubs were in action, and the full slate was headlined by a match-up between two North Bohemian rivals tied for first.

Třinec's Bryan McGregor of Niagra Falls, ON gets ready for a
faceoff against Liberec on Sunday. Photo: Marian Ježowicz,
On the day that the Pittsburgh Steelers lost the Super Bowl, another team using the Steelers name was trying to move into first place in the Czech Extraliga. While Oceláři (Steelers) Třinec has been battling for top spot all season, this was Liberec's first opportunity to move into sole possession of first place in the standings. They went into Třinec and out shot the home side 39-32. Unfortunately for the visitors, Peter Hamrlík stopped all 39 shots he faced for his fifth shutout of the season, while Tomáš Vošvrda only stopped 27 in the Liberec goal and Třinec skated away with a 5-0 victory. Oceláři was led offensively by the line of David Květon, Vojtěch Polák, and Jiří Polanský, who each contributed 1 goal and 2 assists.

In East Moravia, PSG Zlín hosted Vítkovice Steel in a battle for third and fourth places. Vítkovice was coming off an impressive victory over Kometa Brno on Friday, but they couldn't duplicate their performance in Zlín, falling 5-1. The home team was led by 3 points from Petr Leška.

Mountfield Česke Budějovice and Eaton Pardubice were both winners on the road, and remain tied for fifth. Mountfield went into Prague and spotted Sparta a 3-0 lead in the first period before rallying for a 5-3 win. Pacing their offence was Milan Gulaš with 4 points and Tomáš Mertl with 3. Pardubice won 4-1 in Brno, as Kometa's chase for a playoff spot takes another beating. Kometa scored first, but Holyoke, MA's Adam Pineault ignited a run of 4 unanswered goals for Pardubice.

Energie Karlovy Vary did their playoff chances a favour, winning 3-2 in Litvínov. They now have a 4-point cushion over Brno and trail Litvínov and Plzeň by 2. Plzeň won 4-2 in Mladá Boleslav, who remain in last place.

Finally, Slavia Praha and Vagnerplast Kladno were tied 2-2 late in the third period and then traded goals in the last two minutes of regulation time to go to overtime tied at 3. Slavia won in a shootout, but lost a bit of ground on České Budějovice and Pardubice in the elusive chase for a top-6 position. With the single point, Kladno opens up a 5-point lead on Boleslav in hopes of avoiding a relegation series with the First League champion.

Sunday was the last day of action for the league until Tuesday, February 15, as they take a break for the LG Hockey Games in Stockholm, Sweden, the third of four tournaments in the 2010-11 Euro Hockey Tour. Czech national U19, U18, U17, and U16 teams will also play in tournaments during the break.

Until the resumption of play, here are the standings, with 3 games remaining for each team:

Club GP GF:GA Pts
1. HC Oceláři Třinec 49 169:129 93
2. Bílí Tygři Liberec 49 149:130 90
3. PSG Zlín 49 153:128 85
4. HC Vítkovice Steel 49 150:130 83
5. HC Mountfield České Budějovice 49 149:123 80
6. HC Eaton Pardubice 49 135:120 80
7. HC Slavia Praha 49 133:128 78
8. HC Plzeň 1929 49 148:140 71
9. HC Benzina Litvínov 49 122:151 71
10. HC Energie Karlovy Vary 49 148:147 69
11. HC Kometa Brno 49 123:136 65
12. HC Sparta Praha 49 108:135 52
13. HC Vagnerplast Kladno 49 98:155 35
14. BK Mladá Boleslav 49 121:154 30

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