GANGNEUNG, South Korea (AP) The Canadians hugged each other and happily celebrated an Olympic hockey medal that isn’t the color they prefer.
At a tournament where the NHL stars stayed away, the Canadians who played at the Pyeongchang Games were just ecstatic not to be going home empty-handed.
Andrew Ebbett, Chris Kelly and Derek Roy each scored in the first period, and Canada took the bronze medal by beating the Czech Republic 6-4 Saturday.
”I’m super proud,” forward Rob Klinkhammer said with the bronze hanging around his neck. ”I’m honored to have won a medal at the Olympics. I know it’s not what Canada was hoping for, and it’s not what we were hoping for … I’m going to remember this for the rest of my life. I never thought I’d be an Olympian, let alone have a medal. I’m ecstatic right now.”
This was the third bronze for Canada to go along with nine gold medals for the country that created hockey and won the last two men’s Olympic titles. This latest medal boosts Canada’s medal haul to 29.
Ebbett and Kelly added a goal apiece in the third, and Wojtek Wolski also scored for Canada, which finished with bronze in 1968 and 1956. Kevin Poulin made 30 saves in his second straight start in place of the injured Ben Scrivens.
If not for the NHL choosing to sit out, Ebbett, who last played in the NHL in the 2014-15 season, likely wouldn’t have been at the games. He scored twice and plans to cherish his bronze.
”I can tell my kids and grandkids that I scored in the Olympic Games and got a bronze medal,” Ebbett said. ”It’s pretty cool.”
Roman Cervenka scored twice in the final 4 minutes to make the finish more exciting. After a final flurry, the Czechs stood on the ice, propped on their sticks in disappointment at coming up short of their country’s first medal since winning bronze at the 2006 Turin Games.
”We started bad,” Cervenka said. ”For us, it was key first period, and we … give them like many chances. And that was our problem.”
Martin Ruzicka and Jan Kovar also scored for the Czech Republic.
When these teams met in pool play, the Czechs beat Canada 3-2 and had not lost until a 3-0 setback against the ”Olympic Athletes from Russia” in Friday’s semifinals. Then Germany upset the Canadians 4-3 to keep them out of the gold medal game.
With both teams coming off disappointing losses, they came out a bit slow with only three shots combined over the first seven minutes. Then Canada and the Czech Republic scored three goals in 31 seconds with the Canadians on top 2-1 after the flurry.
Ruzicka went to the box for hooking, and Ebbett scored after a shot from Mat Robinson went off Vojtech Mozik’s stick and then Ebbett’s skate at 8:57 for the power-play goal. The Czechs answered 16 seconds later as Ruzicka scored off a pass by Cervenka with the puck going off Poulin’s right skate and in.
The goal had barely been announced when Kelly redirected a long shot from Cody Goloubef at 9:28.
Roy skated up the slot and beat Pavel Francouz with a backhander through the pads off a feed from Brandon Kozun at 15:57. That gave Canada three goals on its first eight shots, a reversal from the semifinal loss when the Canadians gave up three goals on nine shots in the first period in losing to Germany 4-3.
Canada coach Willie Desjardins said he was really proud of his players after a tough game last night.
”Lots of people thought maybe we wouldn’t bounce back on this one, but we really wanted it,” Desjardins said.
Ebbett padded the lead at 5:50 of the third only to see the Czechs answer 46 seconds later. Kovar scored from the slot off a pass from Roman Horak. Kelly scored his second at 9:37 from the inside edge of the right circle for a 5-2 lead.
The Czechs thought they pulled within 5-3 on a slap shot from captain Martin Erat only 62 seconds later. Canada won its challenge for goalie interference.
Cervenka’s goal with 3:34 left was reviewed for a high stick but stood after a replay. His second with 2:05 left was the Czech’s last.
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