Czechs to face US in ice hockey quarterfinals

If the team makes it to the semifinals, the match will be shown in Old Town Square

The Czech Republic's national ice hockey team will face the US in the quarterfinals of the 2018 IIHF World Championship in Denmark on May 17.

If successful, the Czechs will then face the winner of the match between Sweden and Latvia in the semifinals. Sweden is the current title holder, having won in the 2017 tournament in German and France. The Czech team was a disappointing seventh place in 2017.

If the Czech team makes it to the semifinals and finals, the city will show the matches on a large screen at Old Town Square.

If they win, there will be a ceremony to welcome the team on Old Town Square.

“Prague fans of the Czech ice hockey team are accustomed to going to 'Staromák' when our team enters the final stages. This year as well we do not want to miss this experience,” Deputy Mayor Petr Dolínek said.

“We will hold our thumbs on Thursday for the quarterfinals, hoping will be able to cheer for the team on the Old Town Square in the fight for the medal at the weekend,” he added.

The road to the finals this time looks to be tough, as Russia, Canada, Finland and Switzerland are also still in contention from the 16 teams that started on May 4. The final match is scheduled for May 20.

The US team suffered its first loss, 6–2 against Finland, ahead of the coming quarterfinals.“[The loss] could be good for us to make sure we won't deal with this again and stay positive. We're a good team, we've had a good tournament to this point,” U.S. captain Patrick Kane said, according to the Associated Press. “[The Czechs] have some talents, it will be a tough game against them.”

So far the Czech team has only one loss in the championships, losing 3–2 to Sweden on May 6. Of the teams still left in play. the Czechs have already beat Russia 4–3 in overtime on May 10, and beat Switzerland 5–4 on May 8, in a shootout.

The Czechs beat Austria 4–3 on May 14, following a 6–0 shutout of France on May 13 and a 3–0 shutout of Belarus on May 11. The Czechs also beat Slovakia 3–2 on May 5.

The Czech team is currently ranked fifth in the IIHF World Ranking, and the four teams ahead of it are Canada, Russia, Sweden and Finland, all still competing. The US is ranked sixth.

The Czech national team has not won a medal in five years, which is a long stretch for a country where hockey is taken more seriously than politics or religion. The team last won gold in 2010 in the World Championship in Germany. The last medal was a bronze in the 2012 championship in Helsinki / Stockholm. The team has won six gold medals, one silver and five bronze since 1993.

The team has also won gold at the Olympics in 1998 and bronze in 2006.

The team is hoping to return to its glory era of 1998 to 2001 when it won Olympic gold and three World Championships.

The only player on the current Czech team who was on the 2010 gold medal-winning team is Roman Červenka.

The Czech national team beat the US in the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics on Feb. 21 to reach the semifinals but lost to Olympic Athletes from Russia to eventually come in fourth. The team rosters, though, are substantially different as NHL players were not released to the Olympics, so the recent Olympic match can't really be used as a barometer. 

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