Dostal, Kampf share emotional home ice victory for Czechia at worlds

Czechia became the fifth nation to win gold on home ice at the 2024 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship.

Dostal, Kampf share emotional home ice victory for Czechia at worlds

Featured Photo: Getty Images

Lukas Dostal didn’t mask his emotions when he realized Czechia had struck gold on home ice at the 2024 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship.

The sold-out crowd of 17,413 at Prague’s O2 arena erupted in a wild celebration when forward David Kampf scored an empty net goal with 19 seconds left, putting Czechia up 2-0 over Switzerland to seal gold.

Dostal, who helped lead Czechia in net by turning away all 31 shots he faced in the contest, was overcome in the moment.

“When David scored the empty-net goal, I literally blacked out,” said the 23-year-old Anaheim Ducks goaltender, who posted five wins in the tournament and led all goaltenders with three shutouts, “It was unreal.

“I usually handle pressure and emotions very well, but in that moment, I knew that we were going to win it and do it in our home country.

“I started crying under my mask because I was so happy that we did.” 

Dostal, the 85th overall draft pick of Anaheim in 2018, wasn’t the only one on Team Czechia or in the stands to shed happy tears.

“It’s truly something special,” said Kampf, who recently skated in his seventh NHL season and third with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

“It was an incredible experience to play in front of a packed O2 arena, hearing everyone cheering us on. It still seems so surreal that we were able to win gold medal here in our home.”

For many, including Dostal, it was a literal dream come true.

Born in Brno, also the hometown of Boston Bruins forward and Czechia teammate Pavel Zacha, the netminder was just a kid when his country last won gold at worlds.

“I remember saying to myself when the team won the worlds in 2010 that it would be an amazing feeling to win it at home.

“I was 9 years old at that time and now at 23, I fulfilled that dream.”

It was the seventh gold medal won by Czechia since the country was established in 1993 following the dissolution of Czechoslovakia. Czechoslovakia previously won six titles.

The last Czech medal won in the tournament was bronze in 2022 in Finland.

Kampf, who recorded seven points in nine tournament games, is still basking in the glow of the victory.

“I wasn’t really thinking about anything in particular,” said Kampf, of his thoughts during the playing of the Czechia national anthem at the end of the game.

“I was just trying to enjoy the moment with my teammates and the fans. I was just really, really happy that we had won.”

For Dostal, who played in a NHL career-high 44 games with the Ducks in 2023-24, putting the enormity of the victory into perspective is indescribable.

“When you stand on the blueline, in your home country with a gold medal around your neck and you hear the Czech anthem … words can’t describe that amazing feeling.”

Kampf, who has skated in 477 NHL regular season games, had a message for the thousands of fans who supported the team, including those who gathered for a raucous celebration in Prague’s historic Old Town Square a day after the team’s triumph.

“The fans were amazing the whole tournament,” said the 29-year-old forward and native of Chomutov, a northwestern Czechian city.

“I want to thank them for pushing us until the end.”

Czechia, the fifth nation ever to win the IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship on home ice, will defend its title at the 2025 world championship.

The games will be held May 9-25 and co-hosted by Stockholm, Sweden, and Herning, Denmark.