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Czech Republic 8, Kazakhstan 2

By David Ginsburg
Associated Press Writer
Sunday, February 15, 1998; 7:25 a.m. EST

NAGANO, Japan (AP) — Martin Rucinsky had two goals Sunday as the Czech Republic remained unbeaten with an 8-2 victory over Kazakhstan, which put up a good fight for a team that has no NHL players.

Jaromir Jagr celebrated his 26th birthday with two assists for the Czechs, who outscored Kazakhstan 4-0 in the third period.

Kazakhstan, the only remaining team without an NHL player on its roster, has been outscored 17-4 in the round-robin phase of the tournament.

The game featured an NHL-style brawl midway through the second period, with gloves and sticks littering the ice as several players took roundhouse swings at each other. The fighting started when Jan Caloun of the Czechs and Vladimir Antipin squared off behind the Kazakhstan net.

Five players were sent to the penalty box.

The Czechs managed only one goal in the first period despite dominating play. Jagr gained control of the puck along the back boards, moved to the net and sent a pass across the crease to Pittsburgh Penguins' teammate Martin Straka, who easily beat goaltender Vitaliy Yeremeyev at 3:51.

Josef Beranek made it 2-0 at 3:22 of the second period, but Kazakhstan halved the deficit with a power-play goal by Pavel Kamentsev at 7:13 of the period. That ended Czech goaltender Dominik Hasek's shutout string at 87 minutes, 13 seconds.

Kazakhstan needed a near-perfect game to win, and a mistake in its own end provided the Czechs with a 3-1 lead. Rucinsky, of the Montreal Canadiens, intercepted a clearing pass in the Kazakhstan zone and snapped a wrist shot into the net at 12:02.

Vladimir Ruzicka scored on the power-play for a 4-1 lead at 17:31. Kazakhstan got a goal shortly before the period ended, but Rucinsky made it 5-2 with 19 minutes remaining.

© Copyright 1998 The Associated Press

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