The quarter-final hockey matches will take place in Salt Lake City on February 20 and 21. Russia's team will play with its most principal adversaries – the Czech team. Furthermore, the German team will have a game with the USA, Canada will play with Finland and Belarus with Sweden.
The Swedish team is the major claimant for the gold medals. This is the only team that won all the matches in the group. The last match between Sweden and German was over with the score 7:1 in Sweden’s favor. We can only feel sorry for the Belarussian team, who had the Swedish team as their rival at the next stage of the hockey tournament.
The Belarussian team lost in the match with the Olympic hosts, the American team, 8:1, taking account of the brilliant game of the Belarussian goal-keeper Andrey Mezin, who repelled 40 hits (out of 48) in his goal. The Belarussians were leading in the beginning of the match, but then the class superiority of the Americans came over them. The Belarussian team is not desperate though.
By the way, Yaroslav Borichko, the chairman of the Olympic team of Belarus was expelled from the Olympic Games, being dismissed by the International Olympic Committee. The Committee said that Borichko was allegedly involved in the doping scandal. As it was reported, the sample, which was taken from one of the Belarussian speed-skaters, turned out to be positive, the skater did not show up for the repeated dope control test. So the chief of the Belarussian Olympic team is suspected of being aware about the results of the dope control test and advised the athlete not to do another test, but just told him to leave.
The most interesting match of the group tournament was surely the game between the Canadians and Czechs. The match was played to a draw – 3:3, each team was scoring one goal in each period, and the Canadians got even with their adversary at the end of the game. Both of the teams showed the brilliant hockey.
Speaking about the Russian hockey team, it should be mentioned that the Russian fans are not being very optimistic now. One victory, one draw, one defeat, the third position in the group – this is what the Russian hockey team has at its disposal now.
Our team lost to Finland in the latest match, with the score 1:3 (1:0, 0:2, 0:1). Pavel Bure’s goal that was scored in the first period remained the only one of the entire game. The Russian players were trying to compensate their unimpressive game, they sometimes were very rude, but they managed to show the real long-awaited game only after the third goal, at the end of the third period. But the Finnish team was way stronger.
The first place in this group was eventually taken by the Americans with five points, then there is Finland with four. The Russian team must be only grateful to the scheme of the Olympic hockey, pursuant to which a team, which takes the third and the last positions, will participate in the play-off stage.
The failure could be explained with the absence of the good coordination between our hockey-players, who did not have a chance to train well before their first match in these Olympics (there was only one training). But all the rest of the teams were in the same position too.
We do hope that Vyacheslav Fetisov, the coach of the Russian Olympic team, will present the Russian hockey team in the most optimal form during the quarter-finals. We are playing tomorrow.
Sergey Yugov PRAVDA.Ru
Translated by Dmitry Sudakov