David Pastrnak


David Pastrnak


Getty

David Pastrnak and Team Czechia celebrate gold medal.

As much as winning the Stanley Cup is every NHLer’s dream, a close second would be winning the gold medal at the 2024 IIHF World Championship on home ice. For Boston Bruins superstar David Pastrnak, that dream became a reality when Czechia shut out Switzerland, 2-0 on Sunday, May 26. Pastrnak was, unsurprisingly, the key to Czechia’s gold medal victory. 

“This is always so special. [The tournament] was at home, and I’ve never played at home,” Pastrnak told reporters after the victory.  

The gold medal came on the heels of a disappointing playoff run for the Bruins. The Bruins entered the playoffs on a somewhat promising start, after a challenging seven-game series versus the Toronto Maple Leafs. In Round Two, however, the Bruins fell, 4 games to 2, to the Florida Panthers. That Game 6 loss came on May 17. 

Then, just a week later, Pastrnak broke the scoreless gold medal game with 10:47 left in the third period to initiate what would be a stunning victory for his team in front of the sold-out Prague Arena.  Pastrank wasn’t the only Czech NHL player to win gold; Pavel Zacha and Lukas Dostal, among a slew of others, were on the ice as well. 

Czechia is ranked eighth in the world on the men’s side, although their last men’s gold medal came in 2010. In recent years, Czechia has won bronze three times (2011, 2012, and 2022). This gold medal victory marks their 13th gold medal of all time. In 2024, Prague and Ostrava, who similarly hosted the IIHF World Championships in 2015, were inundated with fans who clamored for a chance to witness their country once again fight their way to the top level of international ice hockey. The total number for fan attendance far surpassed the then-record-breaking number in 2015, 50,000, to now 797,727.

David Pastrnak attempts to score on Team Switzerland

GettyDavid Pastrnak attempts to score on Team Switzerland


A Scoreless Game Until the Third Period

Despite Czechia’s storied dominance in the world championships, they entered this tournament as third in Group A, due to a 2-1 shootout loss to Switzerland on May 13, and a 4-3 loss in overtime to Canada on May 21, although they hadn’t suffered a single regulation loss in the preliminary round. 

The first period of the gold medal game was all Czechia, with the team leaning on their forward fire-power and outshooting Switzerland 13-7. The second period was much more equal, and much more confined to the neutral zone, with both teams generating quality scoring chances, at 10 shots each. It wasn’t until the third period that on-ice play began to heat up as both teams were still scoreless and searching for any opportunity to turn the tide of momentum in their favor. This included rough hits, rush chances, and even a pane of broken glass after Ondrej Palat (New Jersey Devils) sent Swiss player Andrrea Glauser into the boards.  

Pastrnak is known for standing in traffic in the slot off of the left circle and firing a stunning one-timer. It’s a tried-and-true play for him that has worked innumerably well throughout his career, and with 10:47 left on the clock, Pastrnak struck gold off a pass from the blue line from Tomas Kundratek. 

From then, it was all on Dostal’s shoulders, as Switzerland levied puck after puck at him attempting to make any scoring chance stick and bring the game into overtime. As time wound down and Dostal had his eyes set on his third shutout of the tournament, Switzerland pulled goaltender Leonardo Genoni in a last-ditch effort to hope another body on the ice could be the breakthrough. Seeing the empty-net opportunity as the assurance goal it would be, David Kampf (Toronto Maple Leafs) scored Czechia’s second goal with 19 seconds left in regulation. 

Dostal, who was named the tournament’s top goaltender, ended the night with a total of 31 saves. 

Team Czechia celebrates gold medal victory

GettyTeam Czechia celebrates gold medal victory


Rosters Stacked with NHL Players 

Dostal (Anaheim Ducks) ended his 7 game run of the tournament with a .929 save percentage, and a low 1.80 goals against average, alongside three shutouts, being named to the media all-star team, and as the top goaltender of the tournament. His fellow Ducks teammate, Radko Gudas, was also on the ice for 10 games, ending with one point. 

Gudas had nothing but praise to grant Dostal

“He’s been terrific. He stepped into the NHL last year and he didn’t look back. He’s a man in the right place. For the age he’s at, he’s so calm. He gives us confidence to be able to play and make those plays in front of him. It’s an unbelievable feeling to have him as a teammate in Anaheim, and it’s awesome to be together as world champions.”

For Bruins teammates Pastrnak and Zacha, their 4 games, one-goal appearances came when they mattered most. Martin Necas (Carolina Hurricanes), had much higher point totals for his 5 games, with 1 goal and 6 assists at the end of the tournament. David Spacek (Minnesota Wild) was present for 10 games, in which he tallied 5 assists. Palat, who also appeared in 10 games, was as much a physical presence on the ice as he was on the score sheet, ending with 3 goals and 3 assists (and a pane of cracked glass). Dominik Kubalik (Ottawa Senators) was similarly present for 10 games, logging 5 goals and 3 assists. Jan Rutta (San Jose Sharks) scored 1 goal in 9 games, and Kampf (Toronto Maple Leafs) scored 2 goals and 5 assists in the same amount of games. 

Switzerland, who have yet to win a World Championship gold medal, have had no shortage of finals appearances in recent years, losing twice to Sweden in both 2013 and 2018. While a silver medal is nothing to scoff at, it isn’t gold, and for the NHLers who were looking for something to be proud of after a middling regular or post-season, it’s a frustrating end to their tournament. 

For Kevin Fiala (Los Angeles Kings), he ended the tournament with 7 goals and 6 assists in 8 games, alongside the Tournament MVP title, the top forward title, and being named to the media all-star team. Roman Josi (Nashville Predators) was also named to the media all-star team and the top defender, with 3 goals and 9 assists in 10 games. 

The New Jersey Devils were heavily represented, with three of their players making an impact on the ice; Jonas Siegenthaler (4 assists, 9 games), goaltender Akira Schmid (.946 save percentage, 3 games), and captain Nico Hischier (6 goals, 5 assists, 10 games). 

Other team Switzerland NHLers include Philipp Kurashev (Chicago Blackhawks), who had 2 assists in 8 games, and Nino Niederreiter (Winnipeg Jets) who had 3 goals and 4 assists in 10 games.

As Czechia became the fifth country to win the IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship on home ice, the NHLers present couldn’t contain their elation over winning the gold medal in front of their home-country crowd. 

For Pastrnak, the feeling of winning at home is unparalleled. Following the medal ceremony, Pastrnak had this to say; “We did it at home. We’ve been waiting for gold for a very long time and it couldn’t have come at a better time.”

 



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