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World Championship

Slovakia Plays For Gold

Kopecky, Slovakia will play for World Championship gold Sunday after Slovakia defeated the Czech Republic 3-1.

Saturday, 05.19.2012 / 3:05 PM / World Championship
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Slovakia Plays For Gold

Slovakia 3, Czech Republic 1

Longtime NHL player Miroslav Satan scored twice, including the eventual winner, and the Slovaks rode a brilliant performance from goaltender Jan Laco and another clutch third period to earn a berth in the championship game against Russia at the 2012 IIHF World Hockey Championship.

Both teams were considered underdogs in their quarterfinal matchup, especially Slovakia, who upset top-seeded Canada thanks to a late tip-in from Michal Handzus. The Czechs qualified for the semis with a goal in the final minute from Milan Michalek against Sweden, but no late-game heroics took place in this matchup between neighboring countries. With the win, last year's tournament hosts will have a chance to win their first world championship since 2002.

Slovakia came out firing in the first period, outshooting the Czechs 11-8 and getting the game-opening goal from Satan, who earned his third of the tournament with just under five minutes remaining in the frame. Unhappy with the first 20 minutes, the Czechs took over in the second, tying the game when Tomas Plekanec won an offensive zone faceoff and fed the puck directly to Michal Frolik, who beat Laco low with a quick shot. Despite outshooting the Slovaks 14-7 in the period, things turned for the Czechs with 3:25 remaining in the second when Frolik appeared dazed following a hit from Mario Bliznack.

Czech Alois Hadamczik, who lost star forward Martin Erat midway through the first on a similar play, was enraged that a penalty wasn't called. Frolik returned in the final period.

The Czechs had problems recovering from the loss of Erat, who was tied for the team lead with three goals in just five tournament games and played only four shifts before coming out of the semifinal contest. Lacking that offensive firepower would benefit the Slovaks, who came into the game outscoring the opposition 8-1 in the third period. With Bliznack serving a tripping penalty to start the third, the Czech Republic came out firing. But Satan struck again while on the penalty kill, pouncing on a loose puck following a Handzus poke check and beating Jakub Kovar to give his team the lead 56 seconds into the final period. Libor Hudacek doubled the Slovak lead 3:27 later and Laco took over from there, stopping 15 Czech shots in the period and finishing the game with 36 saves.

It's an impressive run for a Slovakian squad that qualified for the playoff round at the Worlds for the first time in five years. They played Russia in the preliminary round of last year's championships, losing 4-3.

Panthers forward Tomas Kopecky finished with two shots on 19:34 of ice time.

FULL STORY (IIHF.com)
FINAL STATS (IIHF.com)

UPCOMING EVENTS

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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - BOS 82 54 19 9 261 177 117
2 y - PIT 82 51 24 7 249 207 109
3 x - TBL 82 46 27 9 240 215 101
4 x - MTL 82 46 28 8 215 204 100
5 x - NYR 82 45 31 6 218 193 96
6 x - PHI 82 42 30 10 236 235 94
7 x - CBJ 82 43 32 7 231 216 93
8 x - DET 82 39 28 15 222 230 93
9 WSH 82 38 30 14 235 240 90
10 NJD 82 35 29 18 197 208 88
11 OTT 82 37 31 14 236 265 88
12 TOR 82 38 36 8 231 256 84
13 CAR 82 36 35 11 207 230 83
14 NYI 82 34 37 11 225 267 79
15 FLA 82 29 45 8 196 268 66
16 BUF 82 21 51 10 157 248 52

STATS

2013-2014 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
N. Bjugstad 76 16 22 -14 38
S. Upshall 76 15 22 1 37
B. Campbell 82 7 30 -6 37
B. Boyes 78 21 15 -6 36
S. Bergenheim 62 16 13 -16 29
J. Huberdeau 69 9 19 -5 28
T. Fleischmann 80 8 20 -18 28
T. Gilbert 73 3 25 -5 28
B. Pirri 49 13 12 6 25
A. Barkov 54 8 16 -3 24
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
R. Luongo 25 23 7 .919 2.40
S. Clemmensen 6 7 1 .896 3.09
 
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