The Czech Republic is aiming to get back into the Top Division for next year's World Championships at Malmo, and it is well on its way after winning Division IA against Slovakia, 3-1 on home ice in Prerov. The loss demoted Slovakia to Division IB for 2015.
Despite allowing a goal early and being put under pressure defensively, the Slovaks kept it a close game, tied at 1, until the third period. There, the Czechs made up for a couple of missed opportunities, with Vendula Pribylova and captain Alena Polenska scoring two unanswered goals to seal the gold medal.
To make it back into the Top Division, however, the Czechs need to beat Japan (who was last-ranked at the Olympics) in a qualification playoff to determine which team will battle it out with Sweden, Finland, Russia, and of course Canada and the U.S. Japan has a bit riding on this, as a loss will knock it out of the Top Division after its first Olympic appearance since 1998, the inaugural year for Olympic women's hockey (where it was the host country).
The Czech Republic, meanwhile, is flying high on its recent success -- its Under-18 squad had captured bronze just two weeks prior to the IA games, and a handful of players from that team were on its roster for Division IA. If it beats Japan, 2015 will be its second Top Division appearance ever (its first was in 2013. where it finished eighth). It will finish the tournament with a game against Denmark.