Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Walker and Pohl try to lead Vítkovice in Spengler

They didn't get the kind of start they were hoping for at the 2011 Spengler Cup, but fortunately for HC Vítkovice, the group stage of the tournament is very forgiving.

Nathan Walker (21) and Petr Pohl (55) have provided all of
Vítkovice's offence so far. blesk.cz
After losing 7-1 to Team Canada on Monday and 2-1 to HC Davos on Tuesday, Vítkovice finishes third in the Cattini Group and will now play a quarterfinal game on Thursday. Monday's game couldn't have started any worse, as the Canadians shelled goaltender Martin Falter for five goals in the first period.

The one moment for the Czech squad came midway through the third period, when Nathan Walker took a pass from Petr Pohl, fought off a Canadian defenceman and fired a shot off the post and in for the team's only goal of the game. At 17 years and 10 months, he is the youngest player to score a goal in Spengler Cup history. The Australian was chosen Vítkovice's player of the game and the Davos crowd cheered wildly both times his name was announced.

"It was a great feeling, very emotional for me," he said on the club's website about the moment he scored. "I just hope it will continue and the boys join me and mainly that things start to go better for the team."

Walker's production did continue the following day and things did go better for his team, but other than linemate Pohl, no new players registered points. Against Davos, the duo had a two-on-one and Pohl finished it to give Vítkovice a 1-0 lead early in the second period.

"First of all, Nathan won a battle for the puck in the defensive zone. The puck just went to me," explained Pohl. "Then we managed to get away two-on-one. Nathan at that time went very well to the net, which allowed me to gain time and space. Even so, I hit a defenceman, but then the puck came back on my stick and I had the opportunity. This time I successfully finished it."

Roman Málek, who stopped a penalty shot early in the game, was solid in goal. However, Rakovník's Petr Tatiček scored twice for the tournament hosts before the middle frame finished, and they held on for a 2-1 victory.

Starting Thursday, all games are sudden-death. Vítkovice's quarterfinal game starts at 15:00 Central European Time and will be against the second-place team from the Torriani Group, which will probably be the Kloten Flyers. The game can be seen in the Czech Republic and Slovakia on Nova Sport, throughout Europe on Eurosport 2, and in Canada on TSN2.

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