STOCKHOLM, Sweden -- Former Edmonton Oiler forward Vladimir Vujtek set up one goal and scored the gamewinner himself Saturday as the Czech Republic defeated Canada 2-1 in the National Team's final round-robin game at the Sweden Games tournament.
Finland and Sweden face-off today (Sunday) in the gold-medal final, while Russia plays the Czech Republic. Canada could finish third in the five-team tournament if Russia wins against the Czechs. That would leave both Canada and Russia with identical 1-2-1 won-lost-tied marks, so third place would be decided by goal differential. The Finns take a perfect 3-0 record into the gold-medal game against Sweden, which was upended by Canada, 2-1, in the tournament opener for both teams on Tuesday.
Saturday's game was scoreless through 20 minutes, but Pavel Patera took swift advantage of a Canadian manpower disadvantage when he scored the first goal of the game just 18 seconds into the second period.
Canada's Dean Evason, of Calgary, tied the score at 2:59 of the middle period, also on the power play. Vujtek scored the winning goal at 14:37 of the third period.
Former National Team member Andrew Verner, of Weston, Ont., who now tends goal for Hameenlina in Finland, faced 36 shots in goal for Canada, while Milan Hnilicka stopped 17 of the 18 shots Canada fired at him in the Czech Republic goal.
'Although it was a difficult way to finish the tournament, this Canadian team earned a lot of respect against teams which have 80 per cent of their World Hockey Championship rosters intact,' said Mike Johnston, Team Canada's general manager and associate coach.
The Czech Republic team included veteran international and NHL players such as Josef Beranek, Jiri Slegr, Drahomir Kadlec and David Vyborny, the Oilers' third choice (33rd overall) in the 1993 NHL entry draft.
Team Canada returns to its home training centre in Calgary on Monday for a week-long training block before flying to Japan for a six-game series against the Japanese National Team.
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