Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Olympic Hockey: Czech Republic vs. Slovakia Recap (Winner to Play USA)

The 3rd period of this game was on of the most exciting in the Olympic tournament as the Slovaks almost came back from a 4 goal deficit. However the hole was too deep for Slovakia to pull themselves out of. The Czechs won 5-3 and will play The United States Wednesday at noon (Eastern) on USA Network.

The CR was up 4-0 late in the 2nd when Marian Hossa gave the Slovaks some momentum. Hossa's line would factor in all three Slovak goals, with Zdeno Chara not getting an official assist, but affecting the game just by his sheer presence.

Hossa scored again 7:21 into the 3rd, then Tomas Surovy scored 91 seconds later. Andrej Sekera and Michal Handzus each had two assists.

The remaining 11 minutes of the 3rd period were a back and forth frenzy of opportunities for both teams. Goalie Jan Laco kept the Slovaks within one goal while on the other end Ondrej Pavelec protected the Czech lead.

With 53 seconds left Andrej Meszaros committed a blatant slashing penalty to put the Slovaks a man down. The Slovaks were able to move the puck into the offensive zone to pull their goalie, but almost immediately the Czechs won possession back, and Tomas Plekanec scored the empty net goal to seal the Czech victory.

The Slovaks never played up to their ability in this tournament until the last 21 minutes of this game. Their best players - Marian Hossa, Zdeno Chara, Michal Handzus - are all a little on the old side. Chara and Handzus both turn 37 in March, and Hossa is 35. There are only a few guys on the Slovak roster who are in the prime of their hockey careers and also have top-level ability.

The Czechs, on the other hand, have a well balanced blend of experienced guys (Jaromir Jagr, Patrick Elias), and guys in the groove of their career (David Krejci, Tomas Plekanec), along with some talented young NHLers (Martin Hanzal).

They're going to be a tough opponent for the US. Hopefully that exciting 3rd period wore them down a little bit.

Czech Republic vs. USA Wednesday at noon (Eastern) on USA Network.

Photo Credit:
Jonathan Nackstrand/AFP/Getty Images

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