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Practice Report

Team Czech Republic doesn't want to leave without win

Focused on defeating Team USA despite having been eliminated

by Shawn P. Roarke @sroarke_nhl / NHL.com Director of Editorial

TORONTO -- Team Czech Republic has one goal remaining in the World Cup of Hockey 2016: It wants to leave with a victory.

To do that, it will have to defeat Team USA in a Group A game at Air Canada Centre on Thursday (3 p.m. ET; ESPN2, SN, TVA Sports). Like Team Czech Republic (0-2-0), Team USA has not won a game in the tournament.

Team Czech Republic played twice in the first three days of the World Cup, losing 6-0 to Team Canada in its first game Saturday and 3-2 in overtime to Team Europe two days later.

"It has been a tough time for us; waiting three days to play the game against [Team USA] with nothing on the line," Team Czech Republic assistant coach Jaroslav Spacek said. "The one thing is we want to win. Obviously, we want to bring our best, even if we can't qualify anymore, for the people back home, for the team, for the group of guys that are here.

"It's good that they have this game and they can put everything on the line and play for the Czech Republic."

Video: Practice Report: Team Czech looks toward final game

Goalie Petr Mrazek will start Thursday after he made 38 saves on 41 shots against Team Europe. Michal Neuvirth allowed six goals on 50 shots against Team Canada.

"I think he played well," Spacek said. "Neuvirth played well too. Those were probably the best players on our team in each game. That's something we can build on going forward."

Mrazek is grateful for the opportunity to try to help Team Czech Republic earn a victory in this best-on-best tournament. He also is pleased he will get another game of action before reporting to Detroit Red Wings training camp later this week.

"Every game is important for a goaltender to keep the confidence high and go with a clean head for training camp and for the season," he said. "It's always a great opportunity to be with the national team and play against the best players in the world. I think for every kid, it is always a dream to be in the national team; it doesn't matter if it is pretournament or tournament. It's special for everyone on our team."

Video: CZE@NAT: Faksa finishes Pastrnak's nice no-look feed

Team Czech Republic also is considering one other lineup change. Center Radek Faksa, injured in the opening game, could be back in the lineup if he is medically cleared to play. Faksa will meet with the doctor Thursday morning, Spacek said.

Team Czech Republic is intent on fielding its most competitive lineup because the mandate is to win Thursday.

General manager Martin Rucinsky and coach Josef Jandac met with the players Wednesday before practice at MasterCard Centre and drove that point home.  

"We didn't want to be in this game, but whatever has happened, we have to look forward," Spacek said. "We can see the light at the end of the tunnel. For these guys, if there is a next World Cup, they can be better."

That may well be true, but a win would drive that point home much more emphatically, forward Jakub Voracek said.

"If we win, maybe we can look at the positives," he said. "We have to focus on this game and get the two points."

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