Slovakia out of game for Olympic hockey medal

THE CZECH national hockey team beat Slovakia 3-1 in Wednesday's quarterfinal match at the Turin Winter Olympics, ending Slovakia's hopes of taking home a historic medal from the competition.

The Czechs now advance to the semi-finals, where they will meet Sweden on Friday. Despite winning their group in preliminary round play with five victories and no losses, the Slovaks are packing their bags for home.

The Slovaks played a lifeless match, the SME daily wrote. The Czechs out-shot them by a wide margin, as the Slovaks chose an inexplicably defensive style of play. They came to life briefly in the third period, with speedy winger Marián Gaborík scoring in the 44th minute, but in the end the Slovaks came up far short.

In the 13th minute, during a Slovak powerplay, Martin Ručinský intercepted a foolish pass by Slovak winger Miroslav Šatan and scored on a breakaway, putting the puck between goalie Peter Budaj's legs. In the 29th minute, Milan Hejduk increased the score to 2-0 as the Slovak defenders left him alone in front of Budaj.

After the Slovaks pulled Budaj in the last minute of play to give themselves the man advantage, Martin Straka sealed the Slovak defeat with an empty-net goal.

"It's hard to say where we went wrong. We didn't handle the match. But it's only a game, life goes on. The Czechs played very well, and they demonstrated [the skill] we have shown at the tournament so far," forward Peter Bondra told the daily Pravda.

"We dreamed of winning a medal. Maybe we wanted it too much. We should have relaxed a bit and maybe we would have played better," Bondra added.

Compiled by Zuzana Habšudová from press reports
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