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Kolzig Put on the Spot: Is Bondra Friend or Foe?

By Rachel Alexander and Jennifer Frey
Washington Post Staff Writers
Friday, February 13, 1998; Page C6

Slovakia's Peter Bondra (12) and Germany's Erich Goldmann needed to be restrained during a fight in the third period. Both men left the game after receiving game misconduct penalties. (Kathy Willens/AP)
NAGANO, Feb. 12 — The scene at Big Hat arena was so strange it was almost comical, except that this was the final consolation game of the Olympic men's ice hockey tournament, and national pride was dangling among the absurdity.

With less than five minutes to go in the game, Washington Capitals goaltender Olaf Kolzig, playing for Germany, was in net. Capitals right wing Peter Bondra, playing for Slovakia, was in front of the crease. So was German defenseman Erich Goldmann, who got into a cross-checking exchange with Bondra. Suddenly, a fight began, and Kolzig had to step between his NHL teammate and his national teammate. For a moment, it was unclear whom he was trying to protect.

"I didn't want Peter to get into that with my teammate, and I also didn't want him to leave the tournament that way," Kolzig said. "But he was frustrated. Slovakia finished far from where they expected. I talked to him Wednesday, and he was one unhappy guy."

Bondra and Goldmann were given game misconducts and ejected for fisticuffs. Germany won the game, 4-2, earning ninth-place honors. Slovakia, which had been favored to advance into the eight-team main draw, finished 10th.

"It was just enough is enough — I can only take so many cross checks," Bondra said of his uncharacteristic outburst. "I thought maybe Olie was going to help me, but he's on the other team, so of course he didn't."

Kolzig and Bondra weren't the only players with Capitals connections involved in the game. Minor leaguer Jan Benda recorded the game-tying and game-winning goals for Germany, and minor leaguer Stefan Ustorf, on loan this season to a German club team, made several key plays.

Capitals winger Richard Zednik was in the stands, selected to Slovakia's team but unable to play because of roster restrictions. Capitals goaltending coach Dave Pryor was sitting a few sections away, taking notes. He is also Germany's goaltending coach.

Still, the biggest match-up was clearly the sharp-shooting Bondra and the glue-gloved Kolzig. Bondra was unable to get a shot past Kolzig, despite two breakaways and one near-empty net. Both agreed after the game that when a skater and a goaltender know each other well, the goaltender has the advantage.

"Olie knows my favorite shot or moves from practice, so I tried to change it up on him, and that was probably the problem for me," Bondra said.

But Kolzig had little sympathy: "I'm sure he told all his teammates where to shoot on me, which is why they scored two over my glove."

With their teams eliminated, Bondra and Zednik will go home Friday. Kolzig, who wants to catch the game between the United States and Sweden on Friday, will leave Saturday.

Tomba Looking for Love

Alberto Tomba has arrived. Let the 1998 Winter Olympic Games begin.

Tomba, the dashing Italian skier who once started a gold-medal news conference by declaring "Congratulations to me!" arrived here today and promptly held a packed news conference to talk about his past, his future, his qualifications for a wife, and his shot at another gold medal to add to the five Olympic medals — three gold, two silver — he has won in three previous Games.

"Basically, many people follow me, they love me, they care about me," Tomba said, referring to his popularity here although he never has had any luck racing in Japan. "Last year [at the world championships] things did not go that well. Let's see what goes on next week. I'm hopeful."

Tomba is entered in the men's super giant slalom and slalom, which are scheduled to be run on Saturday (Friday night EST) and Feb. 21 (Feb. 20 here), respectively. As he explained today, after finishing finished with these Olympics — his last — he'd like to enter the marriage sweepstakes. Apparently, "La Bomba" is slowing down.

"I'm 31 years old and I'm making plans for the future," said Tomba, who suggested that he would like to direct or produce films. "And I do hope to find the right girl at this point."

Asked who the right girl might be, Tomba paused. After all, he is legendary for, among other things, chasing figure skater Katarina Witt at the 1988 Olympics and declaring in Lillehammer in 1994 that he celebrated his medal with "three women until 5 a.m."

"Maybe one day, when I stop what I'm doing," Tomba said, referring to his ski schedule, "I'll find a girl who loves me, who wants a family, and who's not concerned only about my name and looking good next to me."

© Copyright 1998 The Associated Press

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