Reigning Olympic champions Canada bounced back from their surprise 4-3 defeat in the semi-finals to Germany, with a sizzling display of attacking hockey that saw them overpower the Czech Republic 6-4 on 24 February at the Gangneung Hockey Centre
The Czech Republic, whose solitary Olympic crown came at Nagano 1998, had other ideas, of course, and went into the match hoping to repeat their 3-2 victory in the preliminary round, when they had exposed the Canadians’ defensive frailties.
However on this occasion the Canadians had far too much in their locker going forward, powering into a 3-1 lead in the first third thanks to goals from Andrew Ebbett, captain Chris Kelly and Derek Roy, with the solitary riposte from the Czechs coming from Martin Ruzicka.
Goal rushAfter a deadlocked second period, the game opened up in the final 20 minutes as the Czechs tried to reduce the deficit and in doing so opened gaps in defence. Both Ebbett and Kelly scored again, with Jan Kovar pulling one back in between. However, when Wojtek Wolski scored a sixth for the Canadians there looked to be no way back for the Europeans.
Then with just over three minutes to go, the Czechs pulled one back through Roman Cervenka to make it 6-3. Incredibly, a minute later, with a power play against them, Cervenka scored again to narrow the deficit to just two and set up a pulsating finale. However, that was to be the end of the scoring and the Canadians held out to secure the bronze.
Canada’s medal count at the Olympic Winter Games now stands at 16 (nine golds, four silvers and three bronzes).
Career pinnacle“We didn't want to finish in that fourth-place position,” said Canadian forward Ebbett, whose double strike proved crucial in the end. “But get the third, get the bronze and it's something you'll cherish forever.”
His team-mate Raymond Mason was similarly buoyed by winning bronze: “It feels great. Obviously 24 hours ago we were not standing here feeling that great about ourselves. I am very proud of the guys and the way they responded.
“We left our mark. We are Olympic bronze medallists and we are super proud of that. This for me is the pinnacle of my career.”