In a thrilling and highly-contentious game earlier this afternoon in Bratislava, the Czech Republic edged past Switzerland to secure a playoff bid from Group B in the 2019 IIHF World Championships.
The Czech National Team team topped Switzerland 5-4 in a key game peppered by penalties that also included some contested goals. The second Czech goal, by Dominik Simon, was not originally ruled a score but overturned upon replay.
With less than four minutes in the game, Switzerland tied things up at 4-4.
But with less than 90 seconds to go, Jan Rutta scored a tie-breaking goal to lead the Czech team to victory.
Later today, Russia and Sweden match up in a game that will decide the Group B rankings; should Russia win, they will take the Group B #1 seed, followed by the Czech Republic at #2, Sweden at #3, and Switzerland at #4.
Should Sweden win in regulation against Russia, however, a complex three-way tie will be created between Russia, Sweden, and the Czech Republic for the top three seeds.
This afternoon in Košice, Germany topped Finland to unsettle the rankings in the IIHF’s Group A.
A key USA vs Canada matchup later today will finalize the Group A standings and determine the #3 seed the Czech team will play (it won’t be Finland, but could be any of the other three teams).
Heading into the playoffs, the Czech team may also be joined by some key figures.
Goalie Petr Mrázek is now available after his Carolina Hurricanes have been knocked out of the Stanley Cup NHL playoffs, though Patrik Bartošák has done an excellent job for the Czech team in the qualifying IIHF round.
San Jose Sharks centerman Tomáš Hertl could also join the Czech team should the Sharks be knocked out of playoff contention. They’re currently trailing the St. Louis Blues 3-2 in semifinal action as they head into game six tomorrow night.