15 December 2013

She's unstoppable. She plays in great form and for the second time during one Championships she trampled the Czech dream into the ground. The Swiss captain Silvana Nötzli came to the Czech Republic with one goal only. To win a medal for her country. In the eighth minute of extra time of the 3rd place game she received a pass on the slot and her shot won bronze medals for Switzerland.

The associations with the World Championships from two years ago really suggest themselves. One team under the home fans' pressure, the other team is driven by the yearning for medals. In St. Gallen the Swiss players were at home and ended the tournament in disappointment without a medal. Now the tide has turned. And although the Czechs fought hard, it wasn't enough for a medal. Silvana Nötzli's desire was simply stronger. “Whether this was a revenge for St. Gallen? Absolutely,” Nötzli wasn't hiding her biggest motivation (more here).

The first period of the bronze medal game was very nervous. Despite Swiss players were full of determination from the very beginning and almost every offensive play meant a big threat for the excellent Jana Christianová, the longed-for goal didn't come. The Czech play resembled waiting for a sentence. Not that the Czechs would be resigned – five thousand spectators would not forgive them for this – but their play lacked some life.

ČEZ Arena waited for the first goal until the 25th minute. In a power play awarded for Žůrková's foul Rüttimann's shot missed the goal but rebounded off the board in front of the empty net and Bärtschi didn't have a problem to score – 1:0. The home players had a power play opportunity too. But during Rüttimann's penalty the Czech shots were mostly wide or saved by the goalie Schmid. And it was the Swiss goalie who contributed to the second Swiss goal. With a long throw she sent Stella into a breakaway, who scored with an accurate shot through the defending Čapková to the far post – 2:0. And it could have been even worse for the Czechs when Urbánková was penalized for an unnecessary foul in the 16th minute. But the home team closed ranks and defended the penalty killing situation perfectly. When Silvana Nötzli was given a two minute penalty late in the second period, the Czechs had a chance to reduce the score, which they used at the beginning of the third period.

The Czechs had a dreamy start into the last period and after goals by Šteglová and Halfarová within two minutes the scoreboard was showing the score 2:2. But it didn't last long. In the 48th minute Andrea Kern shot from the half of the court and after a deflection by the defenders the ball ended in the net – 3:2. The Czechs were not broken by the lucky Swiss goal and even the first line woke up finally, mainly due to the presence of Eliška Krupnová as the centre forward. And it was this universal player who finished the tic-tac-toe play with an equalizer – 3:3. The tied score remained until the end of the third period and, therefore, another Sunday's match went into extra time.

The nervous play from both teams was cut by a set piece at the centre of the court. Marti passed to Silvana Nötzli, whose one-timer ended in the net – 4:3.

The home players sold their lives dearly, but it was the Swiss who hung bronze medals on their necks in the end. It was a bitter ending especially for the team captain, Zuzana Macurová: “This was my last national team game. It's quite a bitter farewell; it could've been with a medal, but it's high time,” concluded Macurová, the Czech team captain and participant in five World Championships (more here).