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Slovakia savors win over Swedes a little longer

by Dan Rosen
VANCOUVER -- Slovakia must have enjoyed Wednesday's upset win over Sweden because the players were kept out of the media's sight Thursday.

Only GM Peter Bondra, the former Washington Capitals' great, spoke to the Olympic news service -- and clearly his mind was jumbled as he tried to weigh celebrating the stunning win over Sweden and preparing for Friday's semifinal showdown with Canada.

Pavol Demitra called Slovakia's 4-3 win over Sweden the most important victory in the national team's history, and those words are not to be taken lightly.

"We are still living with what we accomplished (Wednesday) night," Bondra said. "We decided not to skate (Thursday) and we'll have a meeting and start to prepare for Canada."

The Canadians didn't practice either, but they obviously took a different approach by immediately turning their focus to Slovakia and the semifinals. Their 7-3 win over Russia seemed like it happened days ago.

Canada also couldn't duck the media.

"That other game is behind us," Eric Staal said.

Understandably it was hard for Slovakia to forget so easily. They've won gold at the 2002 World Championships, but pulling off this kind of upset in the Olympics seemed much bigger to them.

"We just have to enjoy this," Marian Gaborik said after the game.

At some point, though, their thoughts have to turn to Canada. Bondra said he watched the Canadians throttle the Russians before his team played against Sweden and saw nothing that surprised him.

"We know what they can do and now we have to prepare for that," he said. "We are the underdogs. Their roster has many more star players than my roster, no doubt. With all our hearts, that is how we will play and we will be ready for the game."

But first they wanted to spend a little extra time reveling in the moment.

"We know we can play," Demitra, who had a goal and two assists, told "Obviously it's the biggest win for our country ever, and we're having a great time. We have a group of guys that this will be the last time we play together ever, so we're enjoying it and we're working hard for each other."

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