Czechs Snatch Bronze From Russia

HELSINKI, Finland -- Jiri Dopita put in a rebound with 1:50 remaining to give the Czech Republic the bronze medal at the World Ice Hockey Championship with a 4-3 victory over Russia.


Dopita banged in a loose puck Saturday after Czech goalie Roman Cechmanek made the initial save on a slap shot by Robert Reichel.


"We just prayed there would be no overtime tonight as the Russians played better and better as the match progressed," Czech coach Slavomir Laner said. "We are more than happy with the bronze as our main target was to reach the medal rounds."


The Czechs won the title last year, but then lost all three matches and didn't make it out of the first round in the World Cup last fall.


It was the second straight year Russia has lost in the bronze-medal match. It has not finished higher than fourth since winning the title in 1993, and it lost in the semifinals to the United States in last year's World Cup.


The Russians had to rally from a 3-1 deficit at the start of the third period.


Alexei Yashin put back a rebound seconds into the period after Vjacheslav Butsaev's shot hit the left post. Alexander Prokopiev then tied it at 8:49 with an angled shot from the edge of the right circle.


Canada, looking for its 21st title -- and second in four years -- will play Sweden in the best-of-three finals starting Sunday.


This bronze medal was second for the Czechs since 1993.


They took the lead at 10:24 of the opening period when Rostislav Vlach grabbed a rebound to the right of the crease and put a wrist shot inside the far post.


The Czechs added to the advantage less than a minute later on a slapshot by Vladimir Vujtek from the left face-off spot that went in under the crossbar for Vujtek's seventh goal of the championship.


Russia pulled one back at 14:44 of the period on a wrister by Alexander Korolyuk from the top of the right circle, but the Czechs restored their lead at 6:45 of the second when Martin Prochazka took a pass from Vujtek standing behind the goal and beat Cechmanek.