Czechs shock Russia

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The Independent Online
ICE HOCKEY

The Czech Republic caused an upset in the World Championships in Stockholm yesterday, eliminating Russia in the quarter-finals. Jiri Kucera opened the scoring for the Czechs, before Otokar Vejvoda made victory certain with their second goal in the final period, watched by nearly 12,000 spectators.

In a low-scoring game, it was the net-minders who made all the difference. Turek was superb for the Czechs, while Cherviakov was at fault for both Czech goals, especially the second, when he ventured way out from his net. The first goal came from a tame shot, although the Russian was unsighted when Kucera let fly.

"I shot and - boom - it was in the net," said Kucera afterwards, adding it had been a very open match which could have gone either way. Russia, who were the runaway leaders of Group A, also fell to the United States at the same stage last year.

However, their coach, Boris Mikhailov, did not denounce his players, although he said that they had lacked fight. "They got a cheap goal which decided the game. We had our chances but their goalie was very good," Mikhailov said.

Looking forward to the semi-final against Finland tomorrow, the Czech coach, Ludek Bukac, was optimistic. "The Finns are very sturdy, but I'm sure my players will manage to put the puck into the back of the net," he said.

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