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Rivalry between Czechs and Slovaks continues
Sochi, Russia (SportsNetwork.com) - The border war continues on Tuesday, as the Czech Republic and Slovakia meet in the qualification round of the Olympic men's hockey tournament.
The Czechs and Slovaks were teammates long ago, playing for Czechoslovakia, before the nation split in 1993. Czechoslovakia captured eight medals -- four silver and four bronze -- from 1920 through 1992, and the Czechs have two medals since the division, earning gold in 1998 and bronze in 2006. The Slovaks are still trying for their first medal.
Tuesday will mark the third straight Olympic meeting between the two nations. The Czechs won both, a 3-1 decision four years ago in the preliminary round and a 3-1 triumph in the 2006 quarterfinals.
The Czechs enter this matchup as the seventh seed after a disappointing third- place finish in Group C. Their lone win was a 4-2 decision over hapless Latvia sandwiched between a 4-2 loss to Sweden and a 1-0 setback against Switzerland.
A pair of New Jersey Devils, Jaromir Jagr and Marek Zidlicky, each have two goals for the Czechs and Ondrej Pavelec has seen the bulk of the time in net.
The Slovaks finished last in Group A with just one point, a 1-0 shootout loss to Russia in their final preliminary game on Sunday. They were outscored 10-2 in losses to the United States and Slovenia to start the tournament.
NHL goaltenders Jaroslav Halak and Peter Budaj have struggled, leading to Jan Laco's start between the pipes against Russia. Laco, who plays in the Ukraine, stopped all 36 shots he faced through overtime against the Russians before surrendering a pair of shootout goals.
Tomas Tatar and Thomas Jurco have the only two goals for the Slovaks.
The United States awaits the winner in the quarterfinals.
02/17 16:11:39 ET
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