Prague Wheel Open 2023 won by Swedish Nacka HI, beat Štíři in shootouts

The 2023 edition of the Prague Wheel Open has its champions. The tournament featured the best clubs from five countries: Ireland, Switzerland, Sweden, the Netherlands, and the Czech Republic. A total of nine teams took part, including three Czech representatives: FBC Štíři České Budějovice, Tatran Střešovice ParaFlorbal, and SKV Praha ComAp Team. The teams were divided into two groups.

The Czech champions, FBC Štíři České Budějovice, started the tournament against the Irish newcomers Gaelic Athletic Association and won 11-0, the tournament’s highest score. The Budějovice team then beat Dutch Dutch Lions United 4-2 and Dutch Doing SV Zoetermeer 1-0 on the first day of play. On the second day, they only had one game left to play against Prague’s SKV Praha ComAp Team, which the Prague team won 1-0 with the help of the excellent goalkeeping of Milan Man. Despite this loss, Štíři advanced to the quarterfinals from first place in the group.

Prague’s SKV Praha ComAp Team finished second in the group. In their first game, they drew 1-1 with Dutch Doing SV Zoetermeer. In their second game, they beat Irish Gaelic Athletic Association 3-0. They started the second day with a 1-0 win over FBC Štíři České Budějovice. Their last game was against Dutch Dutch Lions, who beat them 0-3. They finished the group with seven points.

Tatran Střešovice ParaFlorbal, the third Czech representative in Group B, started with a 2-1 win over Swiss Team Suisse. Their second game was against defending champions Nacka HI from Sweden, who were too strong for them and won 4-0. On the second day, Tatran faced Dutch Haag88 and lost 1-3. This meant that they had to fight for a place in the quarterfinals in the preliminary round, which they managed to do by beating Doing SV Zoetermeer 3-1 and then Gaelic Athletic Association 7-1.

The quarterfinals began with the Czech teams. SKV Praha ComAp Team faced Dutch Haag 88. The match was very close, but in the end, Haag won in shootouts 2-3. In the second quarterfinal, Tatran Střešovice ParaFlorbal faced Swedish Nacka HI and lost 0-4, the same score as their first meeting. In the third quarterfinal, FBC Štíři České Budějovice beat Dutch Doing SV Zoetermeer 3-0.

The semifinals therefore featured only one Czech representative, FBC Štíři České Budějovice, along with Nacka HI, Team Suisse, and Haag 88. Nacka HI, the defending champions, started their game with a clear 7-0 win, leaving no doubt that they wanted to take the cup home again. In the second semifinal, Štíři beat Haag 88 4-2 and also advanced to the final with the aim of revenge for last year’s loss in shootouts.

Irish Gaelic Athletic Association finished outside the top eight and took ninth place. The placement matches began with the Czech representatives Tatran Střešovice ParaFlorbal and SKV Praha ComAp Team. Tatran did better and won 2-1 to finish seventh. In the subsequent game for fifth place between Dutch Dutch Lions and Doing SV Zoetermeer, Dutch Lions won 2-1.

The bronze medal match was between the unsuccessful semifinalists Team Suisse and Haag 88. The Dutch team won 3-1 against the Swiss team.

The final was contested by the same teams as last year, Nacka HI and FBC Štíři České Budějovice. The Swedish players started the game better and took the lead in the first 30 seconds with a mistake by the Štíři defense. It didn’t take long for Nacka to punish another Štíři mistake in the fourth minute. The Swedish defense also made a mistake in the seventh minute, and Ivan Nestával scored a clever shot from behind the goal to make it 1-2. A minute later, Štíři had a chance to equalize in a power play. However, the opposite happened, and Brorsson broke away from the Štíři defense and increased the lead to 3-1. Tomáš David scored before the end of the power play to make it 2-3. The score remained the same until the end of the period, even though both teams had several chances to score another goal.

In the second half, the Štíři started better this time and Tomáš David equalized again in the second minute. The tied score lasted for less than a minute, and this time Tomáš Jelínek turned the lead to 4-3 for the Štíři with a precise shot into the top corner of the net. For the first time in the game, the Swedish team now had to catch up. Brorsson managed to equalize in the 8th minute and it was tied again at 4-4. It only took 48 seconds for Tomáš David to score his third goal of the game and the Štíři led again at 5-4. With only one minute left in the game, the České Budějovice players deflected a harmless shot from behind the corner after several rebounds off the wheelchairs into their own net, closing the score at 5-5. This meant only one thing. Just like last year, the game had to be decided in a shootout. The first series was won by the goalies on both sides. Brorsson and Jelínek converted their shootouts in the second series. The third shootout was won by Axel Eriksson with a shot off the post, while Tomáš David was unlucky on the Štíři side and Nacka HI celebrated the victory.

Final standings of the PWO 2023 teams:

FBC Štíři České Budějovice (CZE)
Haag 88 (NLD)
Team Suisse (SUI)
Dutch Lions (NLD)
Doing SV Zoetermeer (NLD)
Tatran Střešovice ParaFlorbal (CZE)
SKV Praha ComAp Team (CZE)
Gaelic Athletic Association (IRL)