Sunday, May 09, 2004

Luongo Shuts the door

Canada will defend its gold medal status in the final game of the World Hockey Championships Sunday in Prague. Battling back from 1-0 deficit, the Canadians advance to the Gold Medal game on the strength of a controversial third period goal by Shawn Horcoff.

The game itself featured a hard effort from the Slovaks who took the lead in the middle of the second period on a goal from Miroslav Satan. That goal seemed to wake the Canadian team up a bit, as they began to control the fore check and box the Slovaks in for the period. Daniel Briere scored on the power play 2 minutes later. And that would be the scoring until Horcoffs game winning tally in the third.

The heavily pro Slovak crowd whistled disapprovingly and littered the ice with debris after Canada went ahead on a shot from Horcoff, the result of an incident behind the Slovak net, as Scott Niedermayer’s stick caught the goal pad of Slovak goaltender Jan Lasak who tumbled to the ice, scrambled to get back into the net but did not make it in time to stop the Horcoff shot.

Feeling the wrath of the pro Slovakia crowd, American referee Rick Looker then began his campaign to even up the game, calling three consecutive penalties giving the Slovaks ample opportunity to tie the game once again. However, Luongo would have none of that plan, making save after to save to secure the Canadian victory. Luongo made 16 of his 29 saves in that final frame alone.

The 2-1 result was not one that met with the approval of the crowd who whistled throughout the post game awards and continued to display their displeasure during the playing of O Canada. The example of which proves that not all the hockey boors live in Montreal.

Canada will now meet an old nemesis the Swedes who disposed of the American team on Saturday as well. The game offering Canada the chance to repeat at the World Championships for the first time since 1958-59. The USA and the Slovaks will play for the bronze earlier on Sunday morning. The win today also guarantees Canada the top seed of the Olympic pool in 2006. Game time for Team Canada is 2pm EST and 11 am Pacific, two hours and a bit later we should know if Canada has once again claimed gold in the World Championships.

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