Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Rude Awakening for Slovakia

Slovakia played there first game in the World Cup of Hockey 2004 tonight against the formidable Team Canada (back in their traditional Red-and-Whites). Hot off a 2-1 win over the U.S., the Men of the Mighty Maple Leaf came flying out of the gates, much like the night before, and jumped to an early 2-0 lead in the first period, compliments of Joe Thornton and Ryan Smyth. But unlike last night's game against the States, tonight Team Canada showed no sign of slowing down. Simon Gagne kept the pressure up and increased Canada's lead to 3-0 early in the second period and Martin St. Louis made it 4-0 early in the opening minute of the third.

The Slovaks were finally able to get one past Martin Brodeur as Team Canada fumbled the puck deep in their own zone. Martin Cibak came flying out of the corner to bury one top-shelf over the sprawling Canadian goalie. The goal breathed life into the Europeans and it looked like there could be a repeat of another game earlier in the day. Sweden was up 4-0 in the third period over the Czech Republic, but only beat them by a score of 4-3 in the end.

Slovakia's hopes were dashed, however, on an unbelievable play at 7:15 of the third period. Vincent Lacavalier hammered a shot past the Slovak goalie, only to have it carome off the post. Ryan Smyth, however, marked his second goal of the night by picking the ricocheting puck up and burying it in the near-empty net to give Team Canada a 5-1 advantage. Even a penalty to Canada late in the game for roughing couldn't reduce that deficit for the Slovaks, so that's where it ended.

With 4 points, Canada remains the top team in the North American Pool and plays Russia this Saturday in Toronto. Sweden still dominates the European Pool, also with 4 points.

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