Looking for revenge

TERRY JONES -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 11:04 AM ET

VIENNA, Austria -- The quote came from Vaclav Prospal, but the goal came from Radek Dvorak.

"Right now I feel almost on the top of the world,'' said Prospal as he left the ice following Dvorak's overtime winner, which created today's gold-medal match between the Czech Republic and Canada.

"We're not there yet. But now we have a chance to avenge the overtime loss in Toronto in the World Cup,'' he added.

It could have been Ales Hemsky, the Edmonton Oiler who watched the puck roll off his stick on a wraparound late in regulation time. But in the end the hero was his Edmonton teammate Dvorak.

"Finally, I scored a goal,'' said Dvorak.

"I've had so many chances to score in this tournament. It was nice to get the goal to win the important game in overtime.''

QUARTER-FINAL LOSS

The Czechs were viewed by many as the best team in the tournament last year as hosts in Prague, but lost the crossover quarter-final elimination game in overtime when Oilers' netminder Ty Conklin played out of his skin to give the Americans an incredible upset win.

The Czechs were also favoured to get to the gold-medal game the year before, but lost both the semifinal and the bronze-medal game.

While Canada is going for three in row, they'll have to beat the last team to do it. The Czechs were the last team to three-peat, winning the Worlds in 1999, 2000 and 2001 coming off their Olympic gold medal in 1998 in Nagano.

"It should be a big final against Canada with them having won the last two,'' said Dvorak. "I think these are the best two teams. I'm excited. It's going to be another close game,'' he said.

Why not?

So far in the playoff rounds, there have been two games decided by a shootout, this one in four-on-four overtime with the other three games having been decided by a single goal.

This one didn't have to get to OT. Hemsky had a glorious chance to win it.

"He had the goal coming around from behind the net. It was just bad luck. His time will come,'' said Dvorak.

LOTS OF CHANCES

"Ales has been getting a lot of chances,'' said Dvorak of the young Oiler, who came off a disappointing year only to finish as top scorer in the Czech League playoffs this year.

Petr Cajanek and Martin Straka had the other Czech goals while Jonas Hoglund and Daniel Sedin replied for Sweden.

Dvorak's winner came at 4:43 of overtime. He took a pass from Marek Zidlicky just inside the Sweden blue-line and wired one just under the crossbar.

The goal required video review, but Dvorak and his teammates celebrated while they waited for the result to be made official.

"I knew it was in,'' he said.

Prospal said the Czechs, who border this country, have waited awhile for this.

"It's been a long time coming. The public puts a lot of pressure on us and the last couple times, despite having a great team, we didn't finish the job. This is another opportunity.

"We need a better defence at the start of the game than the Russians,'' he said of Canada jumping to a 4-0 lead in the 22nd minute of their game. "Martin Brodeur is a good goalie but nobody is unbeatable.''

Czech goalie Tomas Vokoun said he welcomes the rematch from the World Cup semifinal in September.

"I think we played great in that. We were certainly a much better team in overtime than Canada. It was a bad breakdown in our zone and Vincent Lecavalier was alone and he took the shot. They were a little bit more lucky.

"They have a great team and good offensive numbers,'' said Prospal of facing Canada.

"Obviously in the final you don't expect to get a team that's easy to beat. We just have to come with our best game and hopefully it will be enough to beat them.''

PRE-TOURNAMENT GAME

Canada and the Czech Republic didn't meet each other in the tournament, but the two played the final pre-tournament game in Prague for real and a sold-out arena saw a terrific tilt.

Canada won the game 2-1 with a buzzer-beater by Joe Thornton.

Canada lost 6-2 to the Czechs in round-robin play in the tournament last year, 8-4 in 2003 and had a five-game losing streak to the Czechs at the world championships before that.

"The Czechs always play hard, especially against Canada,'' said captain Ryan Smyth. "They're definitely going to be a tough team to beat.''

Canada, having played in the early game yesterday, will have four hours of extra rest going into the final.

"In one game like this it's mind over matter,'' said coach Marc Habscheid. "I don't think it will make a difference.''


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