Slovaks getting no respect

Team Russia's Igor Ozhiganov (L) is hit by Team Slovkia's Tomas Matousek (R) during hockey action...

Team Russia's Igor Ozhiganov (L) is hit by Team Slovkia's Tomas Matousek (R) during hockey action at the 2012 IIHF World Junior Championships at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary, AB December 28, 2011. Russia won 3-1. JIM WELLS/QMI Agency

SCOTT FISHER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:15 AM ET

CALGARY - The playoff round has been set.

At least, it seems that way.

It's a foregone conclusion Russia and Sweden will battle for top spot and a quarterfinal bye when they clash New Year's Eve.

And then there's the Swiss, which everyone has pencilled in as the third team in Group A.

Not so fast, say the Slovaks.

Forward Tomas Jurco said he's looking forward to his own New Year's Eve clash with Switzerland.

"It's going to be our biggest game," Jurco said of the tilt which will decide the final playoff berth. "We're preparing ourselves for that game."

The Swiss have had difficulty finding the back of the net through the first two games.

That could give Slovakia hope -- except they haven't exactly been shooting the lights out either.

"I never saw the Switzerland game, but we've only scored four goals in two games," Jurco said.

The Detroit Red Wings prospect said he isn't stunned by the lack of respect his team, which leads the Swiss in the standings, is getting.

"I'm not really surprised, because the last couple of years, we haven't played very good," said Jurco, who plays for the QMJHL's Saint John Sea Dogs. "I understand why our opponents don't have that respect (for us).

"But we're going to play our best and make that respect."

Forward Marek Tvrdon, who suits up for Team Canada coach Don Hay's Vancouver Giants, said the Slovaks have the talent to play with the big dogs.

"This team is really good," Tvrdon said. "Everyone played well (against Russia). We were winning 1-0 after the first period. But we had a bad finish to the game.

"Now, every guy knows how big the game against the Swiss is, and we need a win."

Tvrdon said Hay will have Team Canada ready to roll.

"Don Hay is a very hard coach," Tvrdon said. "Every practice is, like, two hours.

"They're very hard practices -- backcheck, forecheck "¦"

Tvrdon, who is also a Red Wings draft pick, would love to play against Hay and Giants teammate Brendan Gallagher in the playoffs.

But even if he gets a chance, he said he wouldn't drill Gallagher, a Montreal Canadiens prospect.

"No," Tvrdon said. "I like him. He's my best friend.

"Every day after practice, we go to lunch. And we play video games -- NHL. He play with Montreal, I play with Detroit."

The results, Tvrdon said, are fairly even.

"Some days, he win. Some days, I win."

scott.fisher@sunmedia.ca

On Twitter: @SUNScottFisher

 


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