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Rozsival helps Czechs to golden victory

by Staff Writer / New York Rangers
Chad Johnson's Final World Journal Entry

Rangers defenseman Michal Rozsival earned his first IIHF World Championship gold medal on Sunday night, as the Czech Republic upset Russia 2-1 in the 2010 title game at Cologne, Germany.

With five straight victories to close the tournament, the Czech Republic gained its first World gold medal since 2005 at the expense of a Russian team that had won 27 consecutive World Championship games dating back to 2008.

Rangers defenseman Michal Rozsival of the Czech Republic eludes former NHL player Viktor Kozlov of Russia in Sunday's gold-medal game at Cologne, Germany. The Czechs upset the Russians for gold.
Rangers forward Artem Anisimov, who was looking to be part of a third straight Russian gold-medal run, had to settle for silver in his World Championship debut. A total of eight Rangers players and prospects -- the most since 1993 -- participated in this year's tournament, but only Rozsival and Anisimov won medals.

Sunday's gold medal showdown was a remarkably physical matchup between historic rivals. Both Russia's Sergei Fedorov and former Rangers captain Jaromir Jagr of the Czech squad suffered injuries that ended their evenings.

Fedorov left the ice after a second-period collision with teammate Alexander Ovechkin -- a mishap that led to the second Czech goal -- and Jagr, a fellow KHL star, hurt his leg when he was clipped by Russian defenseman Alexei Emelin midway through the third.

No Czech forward or defenseman saw more action in the tournament than Rozsival, who continued to be a constant presence with 20:30 of ice time in the gold-medal game. He finished second to Ondrej Nemec among Czech players' ice time and might have led the team were it not for a third-period penalty. Rozsival skated 6:41 in the first period, a team-leading 7:47 in the second, and 6:02 in the third.

The real difference in the game was the goaltending performance of Tomas Vokoun. The Florida Panthers netminder outdueled Semyon Varlamov of the Washington Capitals. He stopped 35 of 36 shots, compared to Varlamov's 23 of 25 shots. With his brilliant performance, Vokoun kept his underdog team in the game against a Russian squad that featured four of the NHL's biggest stars in Ovechkin, Evgeni Malkin, Ilya Kovalchuk and Pavel Datsyuk.

Anisimov again skated on Russia's fourth line with Toronto's Nikolai Kulemin and Atlanta's Maxim Afinogenov. He saw 3:48 of ice time in the opening period and had a shot on goal. With the Russians looking for goals, his ice time was cut to 1:14 in the second period, and he did not skate in the third period, playing a total of 5:02 in the gold-medal game.

at IIHF World Championship Tournament
Year Team Player(s)
2010 Czech Republic Michal Rozsival
2009 Russia Nikolai Zherdev
2008 Russia Fedor Tyutin
2006 Sweden Michael Nylander
2005 Czech Republic Jaromir Jagr, Petr Prucha
2003 Canada Anson Carter
2001 Czech Republic Radek Dvorak,
Martin Richter
1999 Sweden Niklas Sundstrom
1998 Sweden Niklas Sundstrom,
Kim Johnsson
1987 Sweden Tomas Sandstrom,
Peter Sundstrom
Trailing 2-0 in the closing minutes, Russia caught a break at 17:24 of the third, when Rozsival went off for slashing. The Russians pulled Varlamov for an extra attacker over the final 2:36, and with 1:24 left in Rozsival's penalty, Czech captain Tomas Rolinek was called for tripping, giving the Russians a two-man advantage to go with the extra attacker.

Pittsburgh star Malkin turned that into a one-man advantage, however, when he was called for roughing with 1:33 remaining. The Malkin penalty reflected a general lack of discipline on Russia's part in the game's late stages. Team Russia hurt itself with three third-period minor penalties, as well as a major to Emelin, who was thrown out of the game.

Datsyuk finally cashed in on a shot from the right circle when he one-timed home a perfect cross-slot pass from Kovalchuk with 36 seconds remaining. It was too little, too late for the Russians, as Vokoun had to make only one final tough save on Kovalchuk with seven seconds to go.

Gold-medal game MVP Jakub Klepis, a teammate of Jagr's with Omsk of the KHL, got the Czechs off to a roaring start when he scored on the game's first shift, off an assist from Jagr just 20 seconds into the game. Jagr picked up the puck behind the Russian net, emerged from the area to Varlamov's left, and found a wide-open Klepis in the left circle. The former Ottawa Senators first-round pick, who played 66 games for Washington before returning to Europe, wasted no time burying his shot.

Russia outshot the Czech Republic 13-8 in the first period, but could not solve Vokoun. The Panthers goalie stopped all 13 shots, including several during three Czech penalties in the period's final 9:03.

The Czechs took a commanding 2-0 lead late in the second period, when Rolinek's skate redirected in a centering pass from former Ranges defenseman Karel Rachunek, who had skated all the way down to the base of the right circle. The goal resulted from a turnover in the Russian zone that involved a collision between Fedorov and Ovechkin. Rachunek picked up the puck, and it was off to the races. The goal had to be confirmed by video review to make sure Rolinek didn't kick it in.

Vokoun continued to stifle the Russians in the second period, stopping all 12 shots he faced.

Jagr suffered his leg injury and was assisted off the ice at 9:50 of the third period, when he was hip-checked by Emelin along the boards. Emelin, who came in low to take out Jagr's legs, received a five-minute major for clipping as well as a game misconduct

In Sunday's other game, Sweden beat host Germany 3-1 for the bronze medal.
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