2018 Winter Olympics: Canada hockey takes bronze with win over Czech Republic
The Canadian men's hockey team will not leave Pyeongchang empty-handed
Canada didn't get to take home its third straight Olympic gold medal in men's ice hockey, but at least it's not leaving Pyeongchang empty-handed. After a shocking 4-3 loss to Germany on Friday, the Canadian men bounced back and secured bronze on Saturday with a 6-4 win over Czech Republic in the third-place game in South Korea.
Canada was outshot 34-26, but they were able to take advantage of some lax Czech defense and got a variety of contributions -- including two goals apiece from Andrew Ebbett and Chris Kelly -- to hold off the persistent Czechs.
Canada got the opening goal about nine minutes into the first period on a power play tally by Andrew Ebbett. That goal came when Ebbett got his stick on a Mat Robinson shot from the point and directed the puck through the five-hole of Czech goalie Pavel Francouz.
The Czech Republic answered with their first goal just 16 seconds after Canada's. Martin Ruzicka scored his first goal of the tournament. The Canadian defense failed to pick up Ruzicka on a Czech rush and, as a result, he was able to clean up just a few feet from the net when teammate Roman Cervenka misfired on a shot.
But Canada countered that counter just 15 seconds later, reclaiming their lead. Much like Ebbett's goal, Chris Kelly was able to find the five-hole on a deflection from a defenseman's shot at the top of the zone.
That wild exchanging of jabs accounted for three goals in just 31 seconds.
With just over four minutes left in the first period, Derek Roy increased the Canada lead on a nifty play off a rush. Rene Bourque sprung a great breakout pass for Brandon Kozun, who centered a great saucer pass to Roy streaking down the middle. Roy finished he chance to make it 3-1.
The next goal didn't come until 5:50 into the third period, when Ebbett got his second goal of the game, this one again coming on a deflection in front of the Czech net.
But the Czech Republic answered quickly once again, finding the back of the net when Jan Kovar fired a puck past Canada goalie Kevin Poulin from the slot during a delayed penalty.
There was some discussion as to whether Kovar's goal should have counted, as Canada's Chris Lee touched the puck just before Kovar got his shot off. However, officials ruled that possession was never established, and Czech Republic made it 4-2.
Three minutes later, Canada increased their lead back to three with a vicious rip from Chris Kelly that found the top corner. A great pass from defenseman Rob Klinkhammer set up Kelly's goal from just outside the right faceoff circle.
It appeared that Czechs countered quickly once again with a goal from Martin Erat just over a minute later, but that goal was wiped out due to goalie interference. As a result, Canada's three-goal lead remained intact.
That lead was increased to four when a major defensive breakdown from the Czechs allowed Canada to get several attempts on net from in close. Wojtek Wolski was eventually able to stuff home a backhander for the 6-2 lead.
Czech Republic got a couple of goals back when Cervenka scored twice late in the third period. The first came from a great mid-air swat from just outside the Canada crease. That goal was challenged for being played a high stick, but referees upheld the tally.
Cervenka got another on a power play goal with 2:05 remaining in the third period when a cross-ice pass set him up for a great finish. That goal pulled the Czech Republic to 6-4, but it was too little too late.
As a result, Canada goes home with the bronze – their 16th men's hockey medal at the Winter Games. On the surface, a third-place finish might seem a little disappointing for the most prolific hockey nation in the world, but the absence of NHL players in the men's tournament in Pyeongchang evened the field a bit.
Germany and Olympic Athletes from Russia will play for gold on Saturday night.
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