In Saturday's semifinal action at the International Ice Hockey Federation's World Championship in Riga, Latvia, the Czech Republic defeated Finland by a score of 3-1 and Sweden edged Canada 5-4 to set the stage for a Czech Republic-Sweden final Sunday. Winger Martin Erat
will be the lone Predator competing in the gold medal match, along with Nashville prospects Zbynek Irgl and Petr Hubacek. Predators Dan Hamhuis, Scott Hartnell and Chris Mason were part of the Canadian squad that will battle Finland Sunday for bronze.
While no players from Nashville's 2005-06 roster figured in the scoring in Saturday's games, Czech forward Irgl assisted on a goal by Tomas Plekanec that erased Finland's 1-0 lead. A late addition to the Czech team, Irgl has collected two goals and two assists in five tournament games, including the overtime game-winner in Thursday's quarterfinal match against Russia.
Erat, meanwhile, is guaranteed to upgrade from the bronze medal he won with the Czech Republic in February at the 2006 Winter Olympic Games. Even if his team loses to Sweden on Sunday, he will walk away with silver.
Link: In the Spotlight: Zbynek Irgl on IHWC.net