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Slovakia shuts out rival Czech Republic at WJC

by Staff Writer / Winnipeg Jets

MONTREAL -- Slovakia picked an opportune moment at the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship to finally get the better of its historical rivals.

Goaltender Denis Godla made 34 saves to send Slovakia to a 3-0 shutout win against the Czech Republic in the quarterfinals of the WJC at Bell Centre on Friday.

Slovakia, which has not won a medal in the tournament since a bronze in 1999, had lost its past seven WJC games against the Czech Republic dating to 2004.

"It's just like Canada-[United States] so we really appreciate this win," Slovakia coach Ernest Bokros said. "It makes you twice as happy."

Michal Kabac gave Slovakia a 1-0 lead with his first goal at 18:46 of the first period. Peter Cehlarik (Boston Bruins) made it 2-0 with his second goal at 14:18 of the third period.

Martin Reway (Montreal Canadiens) scored into an empty net with 8.6 seconds remaining.

"Before we went [to] this tournament nobody would expect us to be in the best four, and now we are there and everything's possible," Reway said. "Even if we play against Canada or somebody else, it's going to be a hard game for us, but if our performance stays like at this point I'm pretty sure it can be evenly matched."

Godla has allowed six goals going 3-0-0-1 in his past four games. A week ago he was pulled after allowing five goals in an 8-0 loss to Canada in the tournament opener for each team.

On Sunday, Slovakia may face a rematch against the host country in its first WJC semifinal since 2009 in Ottawa. It will play Canada, which defeated Denmark 8-0, in its quarterfinal.

"It can't be worse than it was [the] first time," Reway said. "It was [the] first game for all of us, and some guys, it's their first time for juniors [WJC] so they were pretty much nervous I think. I think our performance from the first game to this one is getting better and better, so we are pretty much [a] different team right now."

Miroslav Svoboda made 33 saves for the Czech Republic, which lost to Finland in the quarterfinals last year in Malmo, Sweden. The Czech Republic's last WJC medal was a bronze in 2005.

"Let's say it was a tough tournament for us," Czech Republic assistant coach Pavel Trnka said. "We didn't start very well at all, and we got through against Russia the last game, which was a big one for us. The guy's got confidence, which was great, but [Friday] the Slovaks wanted it more."

Godla charged out of his crease and lunged with his stick to deny the Czech Republic a scoring chance in the second when he beat forward Jakub Vrana (Washington Capitals) in a race to the puck.

"I kept my cool," Godla said. "I saw that I had a little bit of an advantage so I went for the puck."

His pokecheck directed the puck straight out to Czech forward David Kampf, who had an opportunity at an open net, but couldn't handle the puck on his backhand.

Cehlarik came close to scoring in the first. The red goal light came on behind the net after his shot hit the post and settled under Svoboda. The referee, though, signaled no-goal and a video review confirmed the on-ice ruling that the puck did not enter the net.

Kabac's goal later in the first gave Slovakia a one-goal lead that stood until Cehlarik dug at a puck in the crease to put a backhand past Svoboda in the third.

"The second period was the breaking point for us," Trnka said. "We didn't score any goals and they kept playing the same way and we couldn't put it through. In the third, we had to open up the back door a little bit and that was the result."

Author: Sean Farrell | NHL.com Correspondent

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