RETRO HOCKEY: Hadamczik's transfer with Irgle creates a promotion on the Russians

When Zbyněk Irgl arrived in Riga for his first world championship, he helped the masseurs and guards load luggage as a beginner. May 18, 2006 but the technically proficient Sikula sent home the tournament's biggest favorites, the Russians, who could not be saved even by the stellar combination of Alexander Ovechkin and Yevgeny Malkin.

It was one of the most dramatic quarter-finals in Czech hockey history. The team of coach Alois Hadamczik, to whom 26 players apologized before the World Cup, showed infinite resilience and inner strength. Goalkeeper Milan Hnilička also graced the match with one of the performances of his life, which was frequently criticized during the tournament. A few odd goals and a success rate of less than 88 percent, but on that memorable day the Czech goalkeeper put all that behind him.

The Russian machine compared

“The first third was fun! I don't think I've faced such an offensive team all season,” grumbled Hnilička, who was beaten by Ovechkin playing with dark plexiglass in the third minute. However, the Czechs happily overcame several other tricky situations and sensed an opportunity. During the break, Hadamczik told the players it was time to strike. And that’s exactly what Tomáš Kaberle did on the power play.

The match stabilized and Jaroslav Hlinka's shot and that of Patrik Štefan took over the Czech chances in the third period. But the Russian machine equalized each time. At 3:3 in the power play, and at that point Hnilička doubted it would work this time. “Now it’s going to be hell,” Hadamczik also feared.

However, as the minutes of extra time progressed, the Czech coach increasingly realized that with the skill of the Russian attackers, the raids might not go well. He looked down and saw the number 24 and the name Irgl.

“Zbyňa was a little in bad shape because he had been sitting for 12 minutes before. But he knew we needed him,” said Hadamczik, who, at a key moment, sent the rookie onto the ice with David Výborny, who played the tournament of his life and directed the decisive action of the match.

Excellent knew what to do

“I knew I was going to play forward and throw the ball to Zbyň in front of an empty goal,” Výborný had no doubts. As he said, he did it. However, Irgl was so surprised by the ideal scenario that he jammed the puck and Russian goaltender Sokolov was able to push it away. Fortunately, the panic only lasted a short time as the forward skillfully turned the puck to his backhand and pushed it toward the far post. I made twenty!

The Russian fans and players in the silent hall looked in disbelief at the group of Czech winners, in the middle of which huddled an unexpected hero. Canadian teenager Sidney Crosby also praised Irgle's result at the time.

Few people believed it before the tournament, but even in Riga, the Czechs found a way to climb the ladder again (after the Russians in the quarterfinals, they beat the Finns in the semifinals, only to be stopped by the Swedes in the final). ). The silver medals didn't just have a golden patina for Hadamczik.

2023 Hockey World Cup

John Robinson

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