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Slovakia defeats Sweden to take bronze medal at WJC

by Mike Brophy / NHL.com

TORONTO -- Slovakia won its second-ever medal at the IIHF World Junior Championship with a 4-2 victory against Sweden in the bronze-medal game at Air Canada Centre on Monday.

Slovakia also won a bronze medal in 1999.

Each team managed 28 shots on goal, but it was Slovakian goaltender Denis Godla, as he has done so often during the WJC, who stole the spotlight. Undrafted last year, Godla is eligible for 2015 NHL Draft.

Speaking through an interpreter, Godka said winning the bronze medal didn't mean as much to him personally as it does to hockey in Slovakia.

"It is a wonderful feeling," Godka said. "It is almost indescribable for all Slovakians. The Swedish team seemed to be disappointed from losing Sunday (4-1 against Russia) and we wanted to win more than they did."

Godla wouldn't toot his own horn, but his teammates were quite willing to do it for him.

"Our goalie … our goalie," beamed Slovakia forward Samuel Petras. "He's got a lot of luck, but he is very good. Everybody likes him and he is our hero now. He's a rock star … he's everything for us. We can pray for him because he is awesome."

Petras was bubbling with emotion as he clung to his bronze medal.

"It is an amazing feeling," Petras said. "I cannot appreciate it right now, but maybe I will in four days or a week after I come home. I can't believe it now."

The Slovaks took a quick 2-0 lead with goals by David Soltes and Mislav Rosandic 39 seconds apart early in the opening period, but Sweden tied it courtesy of goals by William Nylander (Toronto Maple Leafs) and Jens Looke.

The second period was scoreless and Sweden defenseman Julius Bergman was assessed a five-minute interference penalty with an accompanying game misconduct at 20:00.

Opening the third period on the power play, Slovakia restored its lead when Pavol Skalicky scored his first goal of the WJC at 2:52.

Sweden pulled its goalie Linus Soderstrom (New York Islanders) with 2:28 remaining and Slovakia responded with an empty-net goal by Patrik Koys to clinch the bronze medal.

Sweden defenseman Gustav Forsling (Vancouver Canucks) said the difference in the game was his team's inability to score with a 1:25 two-man advantage in the first period and Slovakia cashing in on the five-minute power play to start the third.

"You know if they get a five-minute power play, they are going to score sooner or later," Forsling said. "Our power play was not good today. It didn't work today."

Slovakia, which finished fourth in 2009 and has finished eighth four times and sixth once since then, was 2-2 in the preliminary round after beating Finland and Germany and losing to Canada and the United States. The Slovaks upset the Czech Republic 3-0 in the quarterfinal.

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