PRAGUE – In the words of Jon Bon Jovi, “nothing is as important as passion. No matter what you want to do with your life, be passionate.” The people of the Czech Republic take that quote to heart when it comes to hockey. The 2015 IIHF World Championships has given them the opportunity to display their love for hockey, while their hero Jaromir Jagr gives them reason to celebrate.
A New Attendance Record
As they say, the proof is in the numbers. Only through the first half of quarterfinals games, the IIHF all-time attendance record was already broken. Fittingly it was achieved after the attendance of the Belarus-Canada game was totalled. The tournament in Belarus had just broken the record, the past year.
— Joseph Vito DeLuca (@joevitodeluca) May 14, 2015
The current attendance of the 2015 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship (after 58 of totally 64 games) is 652,348 spectators.
“After organising the championship in 2004 we held the attendance record for ten years – until last year when we were surpassed by Minsk,” said Tomáš Král, President of the Czech Ice Hockey Association. “I will not hide that it was a challenge to get back on the first place in attendance – this position shows very clearly how popular ice hockey is in the Czech Republic.”
Whenever the Czech Republic has played at O2 Arena in Prague, the atmosphere has been electric.
When looking at how we can be better hockey fans, we can all take a page out of the Czechs’ book. They’ve been fun, energetic and very welcoming hosts.
The Legend of Jagr Grows
Those fans were a big help in propelling their team to victory. The second game of the day in Prague certainly made up for the first. A back and forth tilt between the Czech Republic and Finland had a very familiar face as its hero.
We shouldn’t be surprised that the man, the myth, the legend, Jaromir Jagr did it again! With under five minutes to play the Czech national hero came up with the go-ahead goal, as part of his three-point night.
The Czech Republic overcame multiple deficits to beat Finland by a score of 5-3.
In what was a storybook performance, the Czech Republic advances against the juggernaut that is Canada. What scene that will be, when the two nations faceoff in the semifinals on Saturday.
In other World Championship news from the late quarterfinals games….
Russia Will Play USA in Semifinals
In Ostrava, Russia defeated Sweden by a score of 5-3 to advance to the semifinals in a rematch against the United States. USA got the better of the Russians the first time around, but they have reinforcements in the form of Alexander Ovechkin coming in.
Russia built up a 3-0 lead before Sweden stormed back to tie the game. However, Evgeni Malkin scored the go ahead goal (one of two on the night) and Russia never looked back.
Stay tuned here and follow me on Twitter as we continue our coverage of the World Championships from Prague when the semifinals get under way on Saturday.
As an American based in Amsterdam, Joe provides a unique hockey insight, bringing a global perspective to the game. Joe has several years of experience covering the game on both a domestic and international level, including being credentialed for multiple World and World Junior Championships.