Sunday, May 3, 2015

2015 IIHF World Championships - 1996 Czech Republic Robert Reichel Jersey

Today is the third day of the 2015 IIHF World Championships, which are being held in Prague and Ostrava in the Czech Republic.

Top Division 2015 logo photo WM.jpg

In Group A action yesterday, Austria shocked Switzerland by winning 4-3 in a shootout after scoring with less than a minute to play with their goaltender pulled to score 2 valuable points in their quest to avoid relegation.

Germany pulled off a dramatic 2-1 win over France when Patrick Reimer scored on a power play with one minute to play to give the Germans a win.

The host Czech Republic defeated Latvia 4-2 to the delight of the home fans in Prague as the Czechs got 3 power play goals, including one each from NHLers Jaromir Jagr and Jakub Voracek as they came from behind twice to win in regulation.

Play in Group B saw Slovakia give away a point in the standings when they required a shootout to defeat Denmark 4-3, which does not bode well for the Slovaks, who seem more than any other country to be a "feast or famine" team in various years this century, as sometimes they finish outside the top eight (2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2014) and other times they find themselves playing for a medal (2000, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2012).

Belarus scored a workman like 4-2 win over Slovenia, who debuted new jerseys today.

Slovenia 2015 Worlds new jersey photo Tomaz Razingar 9.jpg
Slovenian captain Tomaz Razingar debuts
the new Slovenia jersey on Saturday

Finally, the United States won their second game in two days thanks to a narrow 2-1 win over feisty Norway, who were unlucky not to get at least a point out of their efforts.

There is a full schedule of games today, with Group A starting off with Austria, fresh off their win yesterday, taking on favorites Sweden. Canada then faces Germany and the day in Prague wraps up with France vs. Switzerland, who will be looking to take the full 3 points off the French.

Meanwhile, in Ostrava, Group B begins with the Russians against Anze Kopitar and the Slovenians, followed by what should be a highly competitive game between Belarus and Slovakia. Finally, Denmark will have to face an annoyed Finland, who lost big on opening day and will be looking to right their ship in a big way to improve their goal differential.

Czechoslovakia hosted the World Championships eight times, first in 1933 than then again in 1938, 1947, 1959, 1972, 1978, 1985 and finally in 1992, the final year of Czechoslovakia. They won gold at home in 1947, 1972 and 1985.

Following the division of Czechoslovakia into the Czech Republic and Slovakia on January 1, 1993, the Czech Republic has only hosted the World Championships once previously, that being in 2004.

The Czech Republic National Hockey Team is currently ranked 6th in the IIHF World Rankings.

Czech Federation logo photo CzechFederationlogo.png

The Czech Republic have participated in the Olympic ice hockey tournament six times after the division of Czechoslovakia into Slovakia and the Czech Republic. Their best result was a gold medal in 1998 in Nagano, Japan, the first Olympics with full NHL participation, thanks to the outstanding play of goaltender Dominik Hasek. In 2006, the Czechs won their second medal, a bronze in Torino, Italy.

Hasek Nagano Olympics 1998 photo Hasek1998Czech.jpg
Hasek stole the show in Nagano

Since becoming an independent nation, the Czech Republic have been regular participants in the World Championships, with a number of championship titles to their credit. Since their first independent appearance in 1993, the Czechs have won bronze five times, silver once and gold on six separate occasions, with the last being in 2010 in Germany. As hosts this year, they will be looking for their first medal since 2012.

The Czechs have also participated in the World Cup of Hockey twice, reaching the semi-finals in 2004.

The Czech Republic enters the 2015 World Championships with 7 NHLers on it's roster, beginning at the back end with Ondrej Pavelec of the Winnipeg Jets in goal. A solid defensive group should provide plenty of support for Pavelec, and will be led by Jan Hejda of the Colorado Avalanche.

The offense will be loaded, as 43 year old Jaromir Jagr returns to the World Championships at home, while NHLers Martin Erat (Arizona Coyotes), team captain Jakub Voracek (Philadelphia Flyers) and Tomas Hertl (San Jose Sharks) are joined by several KHL players with NHL experience, including Roman Cervenka, Jiri Novotny, Vladimir Sobotka.

Jagr Czech photo JagrCzech.jpg
The ageless Jaromir Jagr

With the format for the World Championships calling for the top four teams after the Preliminary Round to advance to the Quarterfinals, the key for the Czech Republic will be defeating Latvia, France, Austria, Germany and Switzerland without yielding any points by requiring overtime. Their two toughest matchups are Sweden, who they took to overtime before losing in a shootout on Friday, and their game on Monday versus Canada.

Czech fan photo Czechfan.jpg

Today's featured jersey is a 1996 Czech Republic National Team Robert Reichel jersey as worn when the Czech Republic captured their first gold medal as an independent nation in 1996, in only their fourth year of play.

They won Group 2 with a 4-0-1 record, defeating Sweden and Finland in the process. They drew Germany in the Quarterfinals, who they dispatched 6-1 before dominating the United States 5-0 in the Semifinals. They drew Canada in the final and a dramatic goal by Martin Prochazka with 19 seconds remaining gave them a 3-2 lead before an empty net goal made for a 4-2 final score and their first World Championship as the Czech Republic.

This classically styled jersey was worn only once by the Czech Republic and resulted in a World Championship, making it a great combination of both rare and desirable. Following the World Championships, the Czechs changed to a new "waving flag" style for the 1996 World Cup of Hockey later that year in the fall.

1996 Czech Republic WC jersey photo 1996 Czech Republic F WC jersey.jpg
1996 Czech Republic WC jersey photo 1996 Czech Republic B WC jersey.jpg

First up in today's video section, today's featured jersey in action during the 1996 World Championships against the United States. Note that the United States has already adopted the waving flag style, which makes the Czech jersey an anomaly during the 1996 Worlds.

Next are a pair of videos from the gold medal game of the 1996 World Championships, the first being the introduction of the Czech squad and the second a highlight video showing the Czechs defeating Canada to capture an emotional World Championship, their first as the Czech Republic since the division of Czechoslovakia just three years earlier.

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