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Bronze for Czech Republic in hockey

26 February 2006

The Czech Republic has secured the bronze medal in men’s hockey after blanking Russia 3-0 in the third place play-off.

The Czech’s got goals from Martin Erat, Marek Zidlicky and an empty net third from Martin Straka along with solid goaltending from Tomas Vokoun to get the win.

Amazingly Russia was shut out in both the semi and bronze medal game. The last Russian goal came in the final minute of its quarter final win over Canada.

The Czech’s had an inconsistent tournament after losing the world’s best goalie Dominik Hasek in the first game. The reigning world champions saved its best game for last to ensure a medal for its efforts.

Vokoun started in net for the Czechs after having been relegated to back-up duty in the quarter and semi-finals. Vokoun was solid, stopping 28 shots, including 12 in the final period.

“Bronze is a great result,” Vokoun said.

“Playing for the bronze medal is hard, very hard. Losing a semi final game is breaking. We were still disappointed for what happened yesterday with Sweden, but we won and I’m happy for the medal.”

The Czech Republic struck first when Martin Erat scored on a 20-foot shot 4:48 into the opening period. The goal was Erat’s first of the Olympic campaign.

Marek Zidlicky extended the lead 6:36 into the second period when he scored on a power-play goal after Russian Ilya Kovalchuck was thrown out of the game for boarding Pavel Kubina.

Russia rallied in the final period, laying siege to Voukon. Pavel Datsyuk thought he had opened the Russian account at 16:07, but the goal was disallowed for using a high stick. Datsyuk then brushed the referee and was assessed a 10-minute misconduct penalty, ruling him out for the rest of the contest.

With just eight seconds remaining and Russian goalie Evgeni Nabokov on the bench in favour of an additional skater, Straka had an unopposed net to record the final goal.

“It’s disappointing, especially after we beat Canada; we had high expectations,” Russian defenseman Darius Kasparaitis said.

“Then to suddenly not score any goals, you just cant win any games without scoring. We have good young talent but we just couldn’t find the legs or the scoring touches.”

The match-up was a repeat of the gold medal game in Nagano in 1998, when the Czech’s prevailed 1-0, and again Russia failed to score.

Russia had dropped its semi-final 4-0 to Finland while the Czechs were routed by Sweden 7-3.

Sweden and Finland battle for the gold medal on the final day of the Torino Games.

Kevin Diggerson / AOC

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