January 3, 2005
By Ken Wiebe -- Winnipeg Sun
CANADA 3 CZECHS 1 THREE STARS
1. Shea Weber -- The physical blue-liner did an excellent job of containing the skilled Czech forwards all game long. Paired with Dion Phaneuf, Weber kept the front of the net clear and made the opposition pay the price at every turn.
2. Marek Schwarz -- Although he lost his third consecutive game to Canada in this event, Schwarz was the only reason the Czechs were able to stay within striking distance. The St. Louis Blues first-round draft pick was outstanding, turning aside 39 of the 42 shots he faced as teammates failed to drum up much offensive support.
3. Sidney Crosby -- He was limited to one assist on the score sheet, but with Wayne Gretzky in attendance, Crosby was a terror. His blazing speed was on display, as was his vision and dogged work ethic.
Schwarz did an admirable job keeping the Czechs in the game, but his inability to control a rebound on a power play midway through the second period helped Canada gain some valuable breathing room. Phaneuf's heavy point shot gave Schwarz trouble and Nigel Dawes was quick to pounce on the rebound and make it 2-0 for Canada in what turned out to be the game-winner.
SMACK OF THE GAME
Phaneuf added another beauty to his growing list of thunderous checks. The Calgary Flames first-round pick caught Czech forward Marek Kvapil with his head down and lowered the boom, connecting shoulder to chin.
After Crosby found Patrice Bergeron at the side of the net on a power play midway through the second period, Bergeron slipped the puck past the Czech defender, then stopped on a dime before faking a shot and beating Schwarz with a move to his backhand on Canada's third goal.
Canada will practice today before returning to game action tomorrow against Russia in the gold medal game at 7:08 p.m. (TSN).