JAKUB KLEPIS SCORES GAME WINNER AS DESPARATE CZECHS BEAT CANADA 3-2
MANNHEIM, Germany - Canada is ready for a fresh start at the IIHF World Hockey Championship.
The team couldn't pack up its gear and get out of SAP Arena quick enough Tuesday following a 3-2 loss to the
Czech Republic in a tense, chippy affair. It was Canada's third defeat in four games to wrap up the
round-robin portion of the tournament.
The Canadians are searching for answers as they move on to Cologne, where they'll face either Russia or
Finland in the quarter-finals Thursday. A loss there would bring an abrupt end to what has been a frustrating
``Going into the quarter-finals, it's do or die regardless,' said captain Ray Whitney. ``It shouldn't matter
who you're going to play. As we found out four of the last five games, anybody can give you a heck of a game
any night. We realized we played better tonight - we're going to take that and we're going to leave
everything else behind.
``Let's go to Cologne and get a fresh start. We're going to have to play a hell of a game on Thursday, but
we're prepared to do that.'
The team showed a lot more fight than it had in a 3-1 loss to Sweden on Sunday, but ended up with the same
Frustration boiled over in the final seconds of the game as players from both teams got into a skirmish
behind the Czech goal and threw a few punches. Canada's Rene Bourque was assessed a game misconduct, but
isn't expected to be disciplined further.
Nothing has gone quite to plan for the Canadian team during this event, but the group is trying to stay
``There's no point during the tournament that I felt any better about our team than I do right now,' said
coach Craig MacTavish. ``We did a lot of the things that we talked at length about over the last few days.
We're in a lot better shape here than we have been at any point in this tournament.
``I think the message is clear: This is a very difficult tournament, it's going to be difficult to win. But
we're one of the teams certainly that can win.'
Lukas Kaspar, Jaromir Jagr and Jakub Klepis scored for the Czechs (4-2). Whitney and Matt Duchene replied for
Prior to the tournament, Jagr scolded the Czech players who declined an invitation to the world championship
and warned that the country might have trouble competing here. They were in danger of missing the
quarter-finals for the first time ever, but booked a spot with the victory over Canada.
Even though the Canadian team won three times in its opening six games, none of those results come with much
confidence because they were all against teams that are now out of the tournament. Canada scored just four
goals in its three losses and will need to start generating more offence.
MacTavish tried juggling his lines in the third period against the Czechs and wasn't rewarded until Duchene
scored with 1:11 to play to make it 3-2. That was as close as they'd get.
Even the return of Steven Stamkos, who sat out two games with a head injury, didn't pay dividends.
``(We're feeling) disappointment obviously, but no panic,' said Stamkos. ``We're in the quarter-finals,
we've just got to go the hard way.'
Canadian goaltender Chris Mason was pulled during Sunday's loss to Sweden, but was much sharper Tuesday. He
got his left pad out to stop Jagr on a couple of chances in the opening minute.
He also earned an assist when Whitney opened the scoring at 6:59. The puck went from Mason to defenceman Mark
Giordano to Whitney, who drove hard to the goal and beat Tomas Vokoun with a backhander.
It was the kind of start the Canadians had been aiming for after giving up the first goal in losses to Sweden
and Switzerland. But it didn't last.
Kaspar evened the score before the end of the first period with a short-handed goal. Canada turned the puck
over in the neutral zone and Kaspar was sent in alone, beating Mason with a backhand deke at 18:20.
The Canadians came out with purpose in the second period but were unable to get a puck past Vokoun. The Czech
goalie stopped Marc Staal from the edge of the crease, stretched out to deny Mason Raymond and got in front
of a couple good John Tavares chances.
``I would have loved to put them in,' said Tavares.
The momentum slowly began to shift midway through the period and Jagr soon put the Czechs ahead 2-1. He went
to the goal after a faceoff and tipped home a point shot from Ondrej Nemec at 12:19.
Klepis extended it to 3-1 at 18:18 by tipping home a nice Michal Rozsival pass, prompting the thousands of
Czechs in attendance to jump up and down while singing for the remainder of the period.
In the final 20 minutes, Canada was unable to claw all the way back.
``We can't say that we didn't give it everything we had,' said Whitney. ``We played hard and they were equal
to it. You give them credit _ they played a very good game today and Vokoun came up big a couple times when
they had to. It was a good game.
``I mean, what we've noticed throughout this tournament is ... they're all good and this is a big deal over
here. And it's a big deal for us.'