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Slovakia 4, Italy 3

Associated Press
Sunday, February 8, 1998; 7:32 a.m. EST

NAGANO, Japan (AP) -- Vlastimil Plavucha scored three goals Sunday as Slovakia enhanced its bid to advance to the next round of the men's Olympic hockey tournament by defeating Italy 4-3.

The winner of Tuesday's game between Slovakia (1-0-1) and Kazakstan (1-0-1) will clinch its bracket in the preliminary round and earn the right to face three teams laden with NHL stars.

The loss ended Italy's hopes of moving into the championship round. Italy (0-2-0) has not finished higher than seventh at the Olympics since 1956.

Down 2-1, Slovakia got goals from Plavucha and Robert Petrovicky in a 37-second span to put Slovakia ahead for good two minutes into the second period. Plavucha completed the tournament's first hat trick at 3:36, scoring on a slap shot from the right circle to make it 4-2.

Mario Chitarroni got Italy within a goal late in the period, but Slovakia held on.

Plavucha had given Slovakia a 1-0 lead at 6:41 of the first period. Goals by Stefan Figliuzzi and Dino Felicetti put Italy in front with 12 minutes elapsed.

© Copyright 1998 The Associated Press

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