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Russia Holds Off Czech Republic, 2-1

By Beth Harris
AP Sports Writer
Monday, February 16, 1998; 7:51 a.m. EST

NAGANO, Japan (AP) — Russia, its hockey dynasty in tatters after the 1994 Olympics, is a medal threat once again.

Valeri Bure and Alexei Zhamnov scored 10 seconds apart early in the third period as Russia held off the Czech Republic 2-1 today in the round-robin finale.

In Wednesday's single-elimination quarterfinals the Russians will play Belarus, a 5-2 loser to Sweden today. The Czechs meet the United States, which finished third in its group today after a 4-1 loss to Canada.

Four years ago, the Russians finished fourth at the Lillehammer games. It marked the end of the dominance of the former Soviet Union, which had won gold medals at seven of the previous eight Olympics.

That tournament featured a 5-0 loss to Finland — the worst defeat in Russian history and first time in 70 matches they were shut out.

The same threat loomed against the Czechs, especially since goalie Dominik Hasek had given up just two goals in his first two games, including a shutout of Finland.

After a scoreless first period, Russia fell behind 1-0 on Robert Reichel's power-play goal at 11:53 of the second.

But the Russians quickly got it together in the third.

Bure scored on a slap shot at 3:27 to tie the game. Ten seconds later, Zhamnov fought his way through Czech defenders Petr Svoboda and Roman Hamrlik and scored the game-winning goal lying on his stomach.

© Copyright 1998 The Associated Press

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