Bronze medal for Czechia at IIHF World Junior Championship

The Czech Republic team poses with their medals after defeating Finland in the bronze medal game at the IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship in Gothenburg, Sweden

After an exciting tournament, the Czech men’s junior ice hockey team is home, returning with a bronze medal. This is the second consecutive year that Czechia has earned a medal in the 20 and under tournament, a major feat for the country who before then, hadn’t placed in the tournament since 2005.

Finland's Aleksanteri Kaskimaki in action against Czechia's Jakub Štancl | Photo: Adam Ihse,  ČTK

On the evening of January 6th, players from the Czech men’s under 20 ice hockey team were greeted by loved ones and fans at Vaclav Havel airport as they returned home from the International Ice Hockey Championship in Gothenburg, Sweden. On Friday evening, the team defeated Finland in an 8-5 victory, placing third in the tournament and earning them a bronze medal for their country.

Friday’s game was anything but ordinary. With Finland in the lead for the majority of the game, Czechia made an astonishing comeback in the final minutes of the third period, scoring four goals in less than two minutes.

This wasn’t the first time Czechia made such a comeback in this tournament. During the quarterfinal game against Canada, they scored with just 11 seconds remaining in the third period, breaking the 2-2 tie game and leading them to the semi-finals. Their gold medal dreams fell short against the home team Sweden, and Czechia failed to qualify for the final match.

The Czech team celebrate winning their bronze medal after the IIHF World Junior Championship ice hockey match | Photo: Bjorn Larsson Rosvall,  ČTK

This is the second consecutive medal Czechia has won in the under 20 championship. Last year, in 2023, they fell to Canada in the gold medal match, earning a silver medal. Before the 2023 tournament, the country had not won a medal since 2005, when they placed second.

When asked about his team’s performance this year, Tomas Hamara, who scored the game winner with 1:41 left in regulation time said “we played as a team the whole tournament, there weren't really any individuals. It was a team. I'm really happy to be part of that."