Friday, March 25, 2011

Znojmo-Karlovy Vary in Jr Extraliga finals

After dropping the first games of their best-of-three series on the road, both Prague-based teams in the Junior Extraliga semifinals needed to sweep two games at home to advance to the finals. Neither was successful.

Tomáš Klíma was the hero for Karlovy Vary in their Junior
Extraliga semifinal versus Sparta. Photo: Jan Beneš,
On Wednesday, Energie Karlovy Vary went into Tesla Arena and defeated Sparta Praha 3-2 in a shootout, knocking out the league's first-overall team in the regular season. After scoring twice in game 1, Karlovy Vary's Tomáš Klíma added 2 more goals in game 2, including the shootout winner, and an assist. 20-year-old Slovak-native Klíma played most of the year in the professional Extraliga and, after the team lost to Slavia in the first round of the playoffs, joined the junior team for its playoff run.

On Thursday, Orli Znojmo had its first chance to join Karlovy Vary in the finals, but met a Slavia Praha team firing on all cylinders. Michal Hellar scored twice as Slavia built up a 5-0 lead midway through the game before Znojmo battled back with a pair of scores to make it a 5-2 final. Znojmo was very upset with the work of referee Štěpán Souček, who awarded Slavia with 8 power-plays compared to 3 for Znojmo, and felt there were several infractions not called against Slavia. In the final minute of play, coach Martin Stloukal was ejected from the game.

In Friday's rubber match, Slavia built up a 2-1 lead halfway through the first period, but after that Znojmo played a very sound defensive game, surrendering very few quality scoring chances, even while penalty killing. Adam Havlík and Richard Jarůšek scored in the second period, and they held on the rest of the way.

Both games at Eden were well-attended by a large contingent of Znojmo supporters, who even outnumbered the Slavia fans on Friday, likely due to the early start time and the fact that most Slavia fans were more concerned with the Extraliga playoff game in the evening.

The Junior Extraliga finals start on Sunday in Karlovy Vary at 17:30. The series then shifts to Znojmo for games Tuesday and, if necessary, Wednesday.

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