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USA Eliminates Czechs: The Decisive Moment
Forest Kenney
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FEA.047.03
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January 2, 2003
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With just a minute and a half to play against the United States and his team trailing 4-3, Czech Republic goaltender Lucas Mensator made his move toward the bench for the extra attacker as his team headed up ice with control of the puck. But, for some reason, he came to a stop when he reached the blue-line.

His team maintained possession for the next 30 seconds, but Mensator remained in limbo, flirting with the idea both of heading to the bench and returning to his crease. His inability to make a decision may have cost his team its shot at a medal, despite the fact that he entered the game in the second period in relief of starter Martin Falter and played flawlessly.

When Mensator finally did make his way to the bench, there was less than 40 seconds left on the clock, and the player who replaced him, Jiri Novotny, instantly gained a scoring chance which was kicked aside by the American goalie, Robert Geopfert. It was the last quality chance that the Czechs could muster.

Perhaps had Mensator came into the game earlier the United States might not have built their lead to 4-1, but had he gone to the bench sooner it might have been enough to spark the offence to tie the game. Instead, the USA won 4-3 and eliminated the Czechs from medal contention.


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