Neighbouring nations Slovakia and the Czech Republic rekindled their hockey rivalry, meeting Tuesday in a qualifying game at the Sochi Winter Olympics.
They were competing for the chance to play the U.S. in the quarterfinals of the men’s hockey tournament.
The Czech Republic was favoured to win the qualifying game. It came into Tuesday’s game with a record of one win (against Latvia) and two losses (against Switzerland and Sweden).
Despite a near-collapse in the third period, the Czechs managed to hold off a Slovakian comeback, and won the game 5-3.
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The Czechs were up 3-0 in the first period, with goals from Ales Hemsky, Roman Cervenka and David Krejci.
Jaromir Jagr, Tomas Plekanec, Tomas Kaberle, Jakub Voracek and Radko Gudas picked up the assists.
With just minutes left in the second period, Cervenka picked up his second goal of the game, widening the Czech lead to 4-0.
Marian Hossa got his first goal of the Olympics with just a minute left in the second period, closing the gap with the Czechs to three goals.
The Czech Republic outshot Slovakia 21 to 17 after two periods.
Hossa netted his second goal of the game, seven minutes into the third period. By the time of Hossa’s second goal, Slovakia was outshooting the Czech’s 7-0, their four-goal lead fading in the distance.
Tomas Surovy scored another goal for Slovakia just over a minute later, closing the gap to 4-3.
After what appeared to be an impending Czech collapse, Plekanec added another goal late in the third period. The Czech Republic won the game 5-3.
Slovakia finished the tournament without a win, also losing 7-1 to the U.S., 3-1 to Slovenia, 1-0 to Russia after pushing the home team to a shootout.
Slovakia’s captain (and typically dominant NHL defenceman) Zdeno Chara has been quiet in the Olympic tournament, with many questioning whether he is hiding an injury or illness. Chara was held to just one assist.