The coaches of the Czechoslovak team did not find themselves in an easy situation. The national team had placed second at the Sarajevo Olympics and were absolutely burnt out from the Canada Cup from the autumn before. The team did not seem to be in good enough shape. A major training camp was organized in Zadov in the Sumava mountains of West Bohemia in order to properly get the players ready. A newcomer to the team was Vladimir Ruzicka, the captain of the gold-medal team in the ’98 Nagano Olympics.
Czechoslovak fans thought of the team as an outsider so as the tournament progressed they began to be pleasantly surprised. In the basic round they defeated Finland 5-0 and both East and West Germany by the identical scores of 6-1. The next match meant the first loss in the tournament – the Czechoslovaks lost against the Americans 1-3. Immediately after the match, the coaches called a team meeting and it worked. The following match against Sweden was won by the Czechoslovaks 7-2 and then came a 4-4 tie with Canada whose team included the youngsters Mario Lemieux and Steve Yzerman.
But the home team lost to the Soviet Union 1-5 and they only made it into the final round of the tournament from the fourth and last possible position. The Soviet team awaited the Czechoslovaks once again in little over 24 hours. The “line of death” for the Soviet team was the famed KLM Line of Krutov, Larionov, and Makarov – all three famous for their amazing skills. Although the Soviets were better throughout the match, the Czechoslovak national team eked out a 2-1 victory after a costly mistake by the Soviet goalie, Myskin.
In the semi-final they clobbered the Americans 11-2 paving the way to the final. And in the final match the Czechoslovaks played against Canada. The hero of the night was Jiri Sejba who scored a hat-trick and with other goals scored by Frantisek Cernik and Jiri Lala, the host team won 5-3.
Final Standings: 1st Czechoslovakia, 2nd Canada, 3rd Soviet Union.
World Champions - Czechoslovakia: Kralik, Sindel, Kadlec, Horava. Uvira, Benak, Stavjana, Musil, Svoboda, Lukac, Rusnak, Liba, Hrdina, Ruzicka, Richter, Lala, Pasek, Sejba, Valek, Kames, Pivonka, Rosol. Coaches: Ludek Bukac and Stanislav Nevesely.
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