It’s been a little while since the voice of coach Milos Riha boomed out around a KHL arena – but as head coach of Team Czech Republic, he reminded fans in Russia what he was all about.
His spells with Spartak, Atlant, SKA and Slovan made him a popular figure around the league – and he enjoyed no little success along the way, taking unheralded Atlant to the Gagarin Cup final in 2011. Today, leading his country against Russia, he masterminded a 5-2 victory that rained on Ilya Vorobyov’s victory parade in Helsinki.
The head coach was not too downhearted, however. “There were more positives than negatives,” he concluded. “We won the cup and we got a look at lots of prospects. We had many rookies on the roster here, we’ll think about what we’ve seen and continue from there.
“I don’t want to single anybody out – we play as a team and we don’t think about individuals.”
Early on, Russia looked set to continue its winning form. Vorobyov’s team scored twice on the power play, with a CSKA combination of Kirill Kaprizov (1+1), Artyom Blazhiyevsky (1+1) and Mikhail Grigorenko (0+2) doing the bulk of the work. Those first-period goals sandwiched an equalizer from Slovan’s Michal Repik, assisted by ex-Vityaz man Roman Horak.
In the middle frame, though, the Czechs hit back. Despite amassing just four shots in the period, Riha’s men scored twice. Domink Kubalik got them both and went on to complete his hat-trick late on with the second of two empty-net goals. For the Czechs, it was the first win of the tournament; Russia suffered its first loss but could not be caught by the winners of the late game between Finland and Sweden due to a superior head-to-head record.
In Krefeld, Russia’s ‘Olympic’ team defended its Deutschland Cup title with a 4-2 victory over Switzerland. Third period goals from Roman Abrosimov and Dmitry Yudin saw the Russians home as Switzerland, short-benched and left with just five recognized D-men, ran out of steam after taking a first-period lead.