In Sports news this Monday: Pardubice win the Czech hockey league playoffs; in the NHL, the Philadelphia Flyers with Jaromír Jágr knock Pittsburgh out of the Stanley Cup playoffs; in football, three teams compete for the title with four rounds to go; and in tennis, the Czech Republic’s women’s team beats Italy to reach the Fed Cup finals.
Hockey: Pardubice crowned league champions
HC ČSOB Pardubice won the Czech hockey league title on Thursday after they beat Kometa Brno four games to two in the best-of-seven final series. Pardubice had a 3:2 strangle hold on the series ahead of Thursday’s match in Brno, giving them an edge, and the visitors went ahead 1:0 early. But Kometa equalized just before the end of the first period. At the start of the second, Brno had some great opportunities but missed them all only to see Pardubice score and win the second period 3:0. In the final 20 minutes, Pardubice scored once more, bringing the final score to 5:1 – and securing them the league title.
Pardubice forward Jan Kolář, who scored four goals and 14 points in the play-offs, described his team’s tactics in the game.
“We focused on defence while Brno had to push and open up the game. That gave us a chance to use their own weapon against them: solid defence and counter-attacks. Brno then lost their cool; although they had some good opportunities, our defence did a great job.”
Pardubice won the title after two years, and have now owned it six times overall. The key factor behind their success has been described as a great mix of experienced veterans and upcoming young players. Pavel Hynek is Pardubice head coach.
“We had some great players in the team. The young guys had a great connect with the core of the team around captain Petr Koukal, and played some great hockey. They had some weaker moments as well but what was really important was the core of the team.”
NHL: Jágr’s Philadelphia knocks out Pittsburgh
Overseas in the NHL, the Philadelphia Flyers with veteran Jaromír Jágr on Sunday became the first team of the Eastern Conference to advance to the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs after they beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 5:1 in game 6, wrapping up the series 4:2. Philadelphia’s Czech forward Jakub Voráček had two assists in the game.
The opening round series was quite special for the Czech international Jaromír Jágr who the Stanley Cup twice with Pittsburgh where he spent 11 seasons. But it was the Flyers who signed Jágr on his return to the NHL, and for good reason: the 40-year-old right wing scored seven points in the series including a winning goal in game 2.
Football: Liberec ahead in league title race
Moving on to football now, where the end of the season in the Czech Gambrinus liga is fast approaching – with three teams competing for the title. With four rounds to go, Slovan Liberec, in first place, beat Viktoria Žižkov 4:0 on Friday to keep a four-point lead ahead of second-place Sparta Prague which fell 2:0 against Mladá Boleslav. Last season’s champions Viktoria Plzeň beat Hradec Králové 1:0 on Sunday and are five points behind the league leaders, in third place.
Sparta Prague, which was the hot candidate for the title throughout much of the season, only won four out of ten games in the spring. But their head coach Martin Hašek hopes Sparta can still win the title if they keep their faith.
“We will certainly do everything to motivate our players. We just must now keep our heads down and not give up. Today’s result worsened our position but as long as there is even a theoretical chance to win the title, our duty is to do everything we can to do so.”
The draw in the last four rounds is slightly more favourable to Sparta as Liberec and Plzeň will clash in the very last round of the league.
Tennis: Czech women’s team beat Italy to advance to Fed Cup final
And finally, in the sport of tennis, the Czech Republic’s women team beat Italy 4:1 in the semi-finals of the Fed Cup in Ostrava over the weekend, and booked a spot in the competition’s finals for the second consecutive time. In Friday’s singles, the Czech Republic’s Lucie Šafářová defeated the Italian Francesca Schiavone 7:6, 6:1 while Czech number one Petra Kvitová beat Sara Errani 6:3, 6:4. On Saturday, the world’s number three Kvitová scored the decisive third point when she defeated Francesca Schiavone 6:4, 7:6. After the win, Czech captain Petr Pála spoke to the Fed Cup website reporters.
“I can’t be any prouder than this. We won three games out of three against such a good team. Francesca put up a great fight and I’m happy Petra managed to win the second set; I think she was a little better and won the game. It’s important we reached the finals which we’ll play at home, and winning the cup would be the sweetest thing.”
The Czech Republic will play Serbia in the Fed Cup finals in November.