Slovakia beats Canada 4-3 to Semi-finals of 2012 IIHF World Championship
HELSINKI – Michal Handzus scored with 2:28 left in regulation to break a 3-3 tie and take Slovakia to the semi-finals. The goal came on a five-minute power play after a knee-on-knee hit by Ryan Getzlaf on Juraj Mikus, who had to be helped off the ice.
Slovakia will play the winner of Sweden-Czech Republic in one semi-finals on Saturday.
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“He jumped inside on me,” Getzlaf explained. “He’s a smaller guy. All I tried to do was get a piece of him with my shoulder, which I did. It’s a sick way to lose; it’s a tough pill to swallow. It hurts. It hurts like hell right now. To lose in that fashion is not easy to swallow. The guys worked way too hard to be delivered something like that.”
It was Slovakia’s first win against Canada in seven tries, dating back to the 2002 World Championship when Slovakia won its first and only gold. Canada is going home after losing in the quarter-finals for the third straight year and will likely finish fifth (sixth if Norway beats Russia later today).
“We’re still flying under the radar,” offered Andrej Sekera. “We just tried to play hard 60 minutes as a team, fight for each other, and get the goals. We have a great team, especially off the ice. We help each other and try to make everybody else’s life easier and more comfortable.”
It was a game in which Canada started off slowly and then took control, but a meltdown on several fronts in the third period virtually handed the victory to the Slovaks. Handzus tipped in an Andrej Sekera point shot just four seconds after Getzlaf was given five minutes and a game misconduct for a dangerous hit in centre ice.
The Slovaks jumped into an early 2-0 lead courtesy of two strange goals. On the first, Branko Radivojevic took a simple wrist shot from just inside the blue line, but the puck bounced off the pants of Tomas Kopecky as he charged to the net and went in over the glove of Cam Ward.
On the second, defenceman Kris Russell failed to corral a stretch pass and the puck ended up in the slot where veteran Miroslav Satan knocked it in through a maze of players.
Canada had a lacklustre and unemotional period but managed to pull within one thanks to a nice play by Getzlaf. He brought the puck out of the corner and went hard to the net, and Evander Kane pushed the loose puck over the line.
Canada took control in the second period, outshooting its opponents 17-7. Jeff Skinner scored with the man advantage on a play that started with a breakaway pass from Dion Phaneuf to Jordan Eberle. Eberle was stopped by Laco, but the puck came to Skinner who lifted it over the goalie to tie the game.
The Canadians then had a great chance to go ahead on a lengthy two-man advantage but failed to do so. But at 17:43 Alexandre Burrows made it 3-2 when the puck came in the slot and the eluded defenceman, Rene Vydareny, long enough to push the puck over the line. The tentative start by Canada was now a thing of the past, and the confident Slovaks who had built an impressive 2-0 lead now looked completely lacking in confidence.
The Slovaks tied the game with six and a half minutes left in the third. The play started on a giveaway by Evander Kane deep in the offensive end that led to a three-on-two break. Milan Bartovic’s first shot was blocked, but the rebound came right to him. He fired a wrister to the far side that beat Ward and open the gates to the semi-finals.
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