Czech Republic Wins GoldCzech Republic won its first Olympic Gold medals in hockey with a 1-0 victory over arch-rival Russia. Petr Svoboda scored in the third period and Dominik Hasek was again perfect in the net recording his second shutout in the tournament.
"I got lucky, man. It's a great faceoff. The guys gave me time to look, and it just went through," Svoboda said. "We all feel like heroes here. We had a great team."
Before the tournament started nobody would pick the Czechs to win it all. Favorites were the USA, Canada and Sweden with their NHL-star filled rosters. None of those teams won a medal.
"I knew we had a great team," defenseman Jiri Slegr said. "I told everyone if we play as a group, we can win it all. Everyone laughed. Now we're laughing."
Finland beats Canada for BronzePlaying without their a best player Teemu Selanne, who suffered a minor injury in semifinals, Finland defeated Canada, 3-2, for Bronze medals. Ville Peltonen, one of nine non-NHL players on Finnish roster, scored the winning goal 17 seconds into the third period.
"We came here as underdogs. We fought through, we beat Canada and Sweden and we had only one bad game, against Russia. I'm so excited I can't describe it. It was like winning the Stanley Cup with the New York Rangers," Esa Tikkanen said.
Canada was coming off a devestating shootout loss to Czech Republic and it might have taken the sharpest edge off the team, but not to win any medal was clearly disappointing to the Canadians.
"We're not pleased with finishing fourth. No Canadian is ever pleased with finishing fourth. I think every one of us is hurting a great deal right now," Canada coach Marc Crawford said.
Jari Kurri opened the scoring in the first period before Rod Brind'Amour tied it at 16:50. Jere Lehtinen regained the lead for Finland only 33 seconds later.
Brendan Shanahan tied it again on a power-play goal in the second period, but that was Canada's last goal.
Finland also won bronze 1994 in Lillehammer and silver in Calgary in 1988.
"We had a meeting last night and put everything behind us. We worked hard. There is nothing like this victory. Nobody really gave us a chance," Peltonen said.
The Ugly AftermathThe last nail in the coffin of Team USA's Olympic performance was the childish and deplorable act of trashing hotel rooms in Nagano.
Obviously frustrated by their on-the-ice failure, some members of Team USA vandalized several hotel rooms by breaking furniture and throwing a fire extinguisher from the fifth floor to the courtyard.
"I don't think it makes a difference who it was," Brian Leetch said. "The
damage has been done. Everybody has been represented poorly by a couple of
foolish, immature acts. Things have blown up in our faces. The whole team pays for it."
Neither team scored in overtime setting up the controversial shootout. Robert Reichel scored on Patrick Roy's stickside on the first shot in the shootout. That ended up being all Czech Republic needed to go to the gold-medal game.
"It's a great feeling when you beat Canada and the United States." said Jiri Slegr of Czech Republic. "It's a great day for all of us and the country."
The loss is a devastating blow to Team Canada and the whole country. Canadians were favorites to grab a first Olympic gold since 1952.
"Words can't even describe how bad I feel," Wayne Gretzky said, fighting back tears. "I guess a gold medal wasn't in the cards for my career."
Canada won silver in the last two Olympics losing the gold in 1994 in a similar fashion in a shootout against Sweden.
"It's tough to lose when you're hoping for a gold medal. This was probably my only chance for one." said Patrick Roy.
Bure buries FinlandThe other semifinal game was far from being a goalie showcase. Instead it was a display of Pavel Bure's exceptional skill. He scored five goals to lift Russia past Finland, 7-4, into the gold-medal game against Czech Republic.
"I'm very happy with the way the team played. It was 3-0 then 3-3, but instead of being discouraged we pulled ourselves together," Bure said. "This was our best game so far."
Czechs send Team USA packingTeam USA's Olympic dream turned into a nightmare with a 4-1 loss to Czech Rep. in quarterfinals. Finland upset defending champ Sweden, 2-1, Canada coasted by Kazakhstan, 4-1, and Russia beat Belarus, 4-1.
"I don't think it'll hit for a while," said Team USA left wing Keith Tkachuk. "We deserve to be out of it. This is bad for the USA. It's awful, it's devastating. We were just a big disappointment. It was the biggest waste of time. This is disgusting."
In a move that will be debated, coach Ron Wilson chose to start Mike Richter in the U.S. net even he had struggled in games against Canada and Sweden. Richter never repeated his performance in the 1996 World Cup, where he almost singlehandedly carried the U.S. to victory.
There were also repeated reports about members of Team USA drinking and partying on nights before games throughout the tournament.
"I don't know how anybody can go home and say we gave it our best shot." said John LeClair.
Teemu Selanne scored twice as Finland sent Sweden home with a 2-1 victory. The game was scoreless after two periods of tight defensive play before Selanne broke the shut-out. Victory was especially sweet for the Finns coming over their traditional rival Sweden.
U.S. Women Win GoldIn the first Olympic hockey final in history of women's hockey, the United States defeated Canada, 3-1, to win the gold medals.
Sandra Whyte set up power-play goals by Gretchen Ulion and Shelley Looney and secured the gold medal by scoring into an empty net with eight seconds left. Sarah Tueting made 21 saves, including several key stops in the final minutes as Canada pressed for the tying goal.
"Canada's always had the edge ... but throughout the tournament we gained confidence," the United States' Sara DeCosta said. "We played them so many times, got to know them so well, we knew we could beat them."
"When you see it's silver," Canada captain Stacy Wilson said, "it kind of kicks your butt."
In the bronze medal game Finland beat China, 4-1.
Canada Takes Round OneCanada beat Team USA, 4-1, in a Final round game that could be the preview of the Gold Medal game. In other games Finland got their first victory over Kazakhstan, 8-2, Russia beat Czech Rep., 2-1, and Sweden topped Belarus, 5-2.
Ouarterfinals are on Wednesday and the pairings are CAN-KAZ, RUS-BLR, CZE-USA, SWE-FIN.
"We wanted to give ourselves a game against the number four team from the other division and we did that," Canada captain Eric Lindros said after victory over USA. "We just want to keep building, keep building, keep building."
Samuelsson ruled ineligibleSweden will lose defenseman Ulf Samuelsson but will not have to forfeit any games, the IIHF ruled. Saluelsson has passports from both Sweden and the United States and a under Swedish law that means he is not a Swedish citizen.
U.S. women beat CanadaUnited States defeated Canada, 7-4, in the last Olympic round-robin game in women's ice hockey. The game was a dry run of the Gold Medal game next week when the same teams will meet again.
Copyright©1997-98 The HockeyNut