“I never thought I’d do a knee-slide”: Pastrňák drives Czechs to gold on home ice

Czechia won the Ice Hockey World Championship with a 2:0 defeat of Switzerland in the final on Sunday night. The Czechs, led by star David Pastrňák, secured the title for the first time in over a decade and a half in front of an ecstatic home crowd in Prague.

Czechia secured gold at the Ice Hockey World Championship when David Kämpf found the net for 2:0 with only seconds remaining on the clock, sparking euphoria on the Czech bench and in the stands at the sold-out O2 Arena in Prague.

Sunday night’s final against Switzerland had been a tense, goalless affair until the 51st minute, when the hosts’ biggest star, David Pastrňák, broke the deadlock with a commanding strike.

Photo: Zuzana Jarolímková,  Czech Radio

It was the first point of the tournament for the Boston Bruins’ “Pasta”, who joined the Czech team near the end of the group stage.

“I never thought I’d do a knee-slide to celebrate a goal. The fact that it happened tonight says it all. Let’s hope things carry on like this but we’ve really got to enjoy this moment, because you never know how long you’ll be waiting for another one. We know that thanks to our last gold.”

Indeed Czechia had not won the Ice Hockey World Championship for 14 years. They have become only the fifth nation ever to take gold on home ice and their all-time win tally now stands at 13.

Czechia’s Lukáš Dostál was named goaltender of the championship after his tournament-best third shutout with 31 saves. Dostál had praise for all of his teammates, but also singled out Pastrňák for special acknowledgement.

David Pastrňák | Photo: Michal Kamaryt,  ČTK

“We all worked very hard and we all wanted it really badly. The Swiss didn’t give it to us for free, either – it was very tightly-matched hockey. Thank God that Pasta scored that wonderful goal. It really showed why Boston rely on him so much – he’s a real leader.”

The venue for the final was once again a sea of Czech flags as the home crowd roared on their team. Player Ondřej Beránek said the fans too had played their part.

“It’s going to take a while to sink in. But it’s something amazing, the kind of thing that everyone, every young boy, dreams of. We’d like to thank the people, because this victory is for them. They drove us on the entire time and it means a lot to us.”

People around Czechia were glued to their TV sets on Sunday night, while crowds gathered to watch the final in pubs and on big screens, including on Prague’s Old Town Square.

There one fan referred to the country’s greatest ever hockey success, gold at the 1998 Winter Olympics.

“I was ‘minus nine’ at the time of Nagano! But I’ve seen footage of the celebrations and that’s why I wanted to come here today. So I’m really glad we won, and that I could be here for it.”

Indeed the Czechs’ run to world championships gold has earned a popular nickname: Pragano.

Photo: Zuzana Jarolímková,  Czech Radio
Author: Ian Willoughby | Source: Czech Radio
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