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MICHALEK SCORES TWICE IN CZECH REPUBLIC WIN

Monday, 05.08.2006 / 10:55 AM / News
Arizona Coyotes

Czech Republic edges Slovenia 5-4

RIGA, Latvia (AP) - The Czech Republic held on for a 5-4 win over Slovenia after jumping out to a 4-0 first-period lead.

Coming off a 1-1 draw with Latvia, the favoured Czechs improved to three points.

Tomas Pleskanec scored 1:09 into the game, and power play goals from Jaroslav Balastik, Martin Erat and Zbynek Michalek gave the Czechs a 4-0 lead.  But Slovenia, which played well in defeat in its opening 5-3 loss to Finland, clawed its way back to 4-2 on goals by Egon Muric and Mitja Sotlar.

Michalek's second of the game at 4:28 of the second period ended up being the game-winner, but the win was far from comfortable for the Czechs.

"We got off to a fast start, scored four goals, and then maybe let up a little bit," said Zbynek Michalek. "We gave them some chances, took some penalties, and they came back in the game. They played with a lot of pride, but in the end, we're just happy we got the two points."

Slovenia forward Ales Kranjs scored late in the second period and forward Tomas Razingar's power play goal cut the lead to 5-4 with one second left in the game.

"The second half was tight and Slovenia showed why their 5-3 game against Finland was no mistake," Czech Republic coach Alois Hadamczik said. "We have to work on our defence because (it) made some mistakes."

The Czechs have four points after two Group A games, while Slovenia, with two losses, sits at the bottom of group.  The Czechs will play Finland on Tuesday.

COMRIES SCORES AGAIN IN 7-1 VICTORY
RIGA, Latvia (CP) - Even though it boasts as much offensive skill as any other team in the tournament, Canada knows its going nowhere at the IIHF world hockey championship unless it plays just as well in its own end.

That's why captain Brendan Shanahan was so happy with Sunday's 7-1 victory over Norway, a preliminary round game that is best viewed as a warmup for the tougher teams ahead. "I thought the preparation started tonight when we built (a big lead)," Shanahan said. "We didn't get soft and we didn't give up any chances to the other team.

"That's how you prepare for the next games - it's by playing great defence even though you're up 7-0."

Sidney Crosby scored a beautiful goal and set up three others while Patrice Bergeron added two goals and an assist to pace the Canadian attack. Each member of the dynamic duo has six points in two games, tying them for the early tournament scoring lead.

But just like Shanahan, coach Marc Habscheid was most pleased with the solid two-way play the team demonstrated.

"They played a real together game and a real structured game," Habscheid said. "When the score gets up, sometimes there's a danger of getting away from it, but they never did and that's a real good sign."

Brad Boyes, Mike Comrie, Jason Williams and Shanahan also had goals for Canada (2-0-0), which will get a tougher test on Tuesday against the United States.

"This tournament gets harder and harder every game," Comrie said.

The Crosby-Bergeron-Boyes line has a lot of speed and uses the big ice to its advantage. They've combined for 15 points so far.

Shanahan has been impressed by the entire team in the couple days he's spent with them.

"It seems like just a great group of young players," he said. "I'm really honoured to be a part of this team because this is going to be Canada's future.

"Not just Sid and (Boyes) and (Bergeron) .B .B . all the guys in this room here."

Goalie Alex Auld got his first start against Norway and finished with 14 saves, losing his shutout bid at 7:43 of the third period when Patrick Thoresen scored on a 5-on-3 power play.

Even without a lot of work, Auld had no trouble keeping his focus.

"There's such great atmosphere, it's pretty easy to stay in it," he said.  "It's good to go out and get the first game under your belt.  I thought the guys played a tremendous game."

Just like its first game, Canada held a 3-0 lead after the first period. The similarities ended there.

Crosby took a pass from Bergeron in the neutral zone and skated around two Norwegian defenders before beating goalie Pal Grotnes with a nifty deke to make it 4-0 just over a minute into the second.

Team Canada never looked back, unlike their first game when they squandered a three-goal lead to Denmark before pulling out a 5-3 victory.

After Crosby's goal they continued to pour it on Sunday, adding power-play goals from Williams, Bergeron and Shanahan in the second period while the Norwegians paraded to the penalty box.

"We wanted to respond a little better to having the early lead," Crosby said. "If we can keep coming at teams with four lines with speed, it's going to help everyone and give us momentum and confidence.

"Hopefully, we can keep going like that."

Two plays by Crosby just 24 seconds apart in the first period gave Canada the lead for good.

The 18-year-old centre found Bergeron hanging behind the rush to set up his first goal at 8:09 moments before stealing the puck from Norwegian captain Tommy Jakobsen and getting it to Boyes, who made it 2-0 with a wrist shot. They were clicking.

"We felt better on the ice," Bergeron said. "We made the adjustments. When you play well in your zone, you get chances to go back offensively andcreate."

Auld enjoyed watching the top line make it a long night for his counterpart Grotne. He's got a lot of confidence in his teammates.

"Guys like that are the future of Canadian hockey and the future of our league back home," Auld said. "They're playing so well and really that's what we expect from them. We know they're going to keep it up."

Notes: Canada is 12-1 against Norway in this tournament, with its only loss coming in 2000 .B .B . Shanahan is one of 18 players to win a Stanley Cup (1997, 1998, 2002) as well as a gold medal at the Olympics (2002) and world championship (1994) .B .B . In 21 appearances at the top level of the world championship, Norway's highest finish was fourth in 1951 .B .B . Canadian forward Scott Hartnell and third-string goalie Chris Mason both played for Valerengen IF Oslo in the Norwegian league during last year's NHL lockout.

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