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Ice hockey: Canadian men beat Czechs to claim bronze

GANGNEUNG, South Korea (Reuters) – Andrew Ebbett and Chris Kelly both scored twice as Canada beat the Czech Republic 6-4 on Saturday to claim bronze in the men’s Olympic ice hockey tournament.

With the win, the Canadians have now earned a hockey medal in three straight Winter Olympics, although Saturday’s bronze will look dull in their eyes next to the golds they captured in Sochi and Vancouver.

“We didn’t want to finish in that fourth-place position; get the third, get the bronze and it’s something you’ll cherish forever,” Ebbett said.

Still, it left them wondering where that goal production had been in Friday’s stunning 4-3 loss to Germany which eliminated them from a run at a third straight gold. The Germans face the Olympic Athletes from Russia (OAR) in Sunday’s gold-medal game, the final title being awarded in the Pyeongchang Games.

“Personally I think I’ll probably be thinking about that game last night for a long, long time,” Ebbett said.

“I still can’t explain what happened. We just didn’t have it in the first period. Germany played a full 60 minutes and we played 25-30. It wasn’t enough and man, it would have been fun to play Russia for the gold medal — what every Canadian dreams of.”

Both teams came alive midway through the first period and they traded three goals in the space of about half a minute.

Ice Hockey – Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics – Men’s Bronze Medal Match – Czech Republic v Canada – Gangneung Hockey Centre, Gangneung, South Korea – February 24, 2018 – Canadian players acknowledge the crowd as they celebrate after their victory. REUTERS/Grigory Dukor

Canada jumped out first on the power play when Mat Robinson chipped a puck in front of the Czech net and it ricocheted off several sticks, including Ebbett‘s, and dribbled through Pavel Francouz’s pads into the net.

The Czechs answered 16 seconds later when Martin Ruzicka scored on a rebound given up by Canadian goaltender Kevin Poulin to even it at 1-1.

Sixteen seconds after that, Canadian captain Chris Kelly redirected a shot from the blue line by Cody Goloubef.

Later in the period, Derek Roy slid a soft backhander between Francouz’s legs off a feed from Brandon Kouzon to put the Canadians up 3-1.

The teams scored in bunches again in the third period, with three goals coming in under four minutes and the Canadians capturing the larger share once more.

First Canada’s Bennett picked up his second of the night, tipping a pass from Brandon Kozun into the Czech net to make it 4-1. Less then a minute later, Jan Kovar snapped a loose puck past Poulin on the stick side to bring the Czechs back to within two goals.

Three minutes after that it was Kelly again who lasered a snap shot into the Czech goal to make it 5-2.

The Canadian’s final goal was scored by Wojtek Wolski, who smashed home a loose puck that had been bouncing around the Czech goalmouth.

Roman Cervenka added two late goals for the Czechs but they were not enough.

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