Originally created 05/17/99

Czech Republic wins World Hockey Championships



LILLEHAMMER, Norway -- Jan Hlavac beat Finnish goalie Miikka Kiprusoff at 16:32 of overtime Sunday, giving the Czech Republic its second World Hockey Championships title in four years.

Finland, last year's losing finalist to Sweden, won Sunday's second final game 4-1 to force the overtime. The Czech Republic won the opener 3-1 Saturday.

Hlavac scored on a breakaway after taking Roman Simicek's pass at mid-ice. Kiprusoff saved Hlavac's first attempt with a backhand shot, but couldn't stop the second.

"It was the best goal of my life," Hlavac said. "It was amazing. When I got it in, all my teammates jumped on me, choking me. I couldn't breath. But we're all heroes."

Hlavac finished the tournament with five goals and five assists in 10 games to lead his team in scoring.

Kiprusoff was heartbroken.

"I feel so terrible," he said. "We came back to win the second final, but we ended up losing in overtime. Yesterday after we lost, we knew we had not played our best hockey and knew if we did play our best we could come back. We had a strong feeling we could win the championship."

The Czech Republic, the defending Olympic champions, also won the 1996 tournament, and was a part of Czechoslovakia's six titles.

The Finns, with President Martti Ahtisaari sitting in the Olympic Hakons Hall's VIP box with King Harald of Norway, failed to generate any offense in the extra period.

The Czechs carried the play in the overtime and had several scoring chances before Hlavac's winner.

Teemu Selanne of the Anaheim Mighty Ducks, who was the NHL's top goal scorer with 47 this season, failed to score for the fourth consecutive game. He had one assist in the two-game semifinal series against Sweden, won by Finland in overtime.

Goalie Milan Hnilicka, the hero Saturday, had a nightmarish start, allowing two goals less than six minutes into the game.

Defenseman Antti-Jussi Niemo fired a slap shot past Hnilicka from the right circle at 1:41 to open the scoring. Juha Lind made it 2-0 at 5:35.

Marko Tuomainen tipped in Jere Karalahti's slap shot from the blue line, giving the Finns a 3-0 lead at 1:51 in the second period with the Czechs shorthanded.

Viktor Ujcik broke away and scored for the Czechs at 10:47, the puck taking a lucky bounce on Kiprusoff's pads and hitting the post before trickling over the goal line.

Ville Peltonen, who was his team's top scorer when Finland won its only world championship over Sweden in 1995, connected with another slap shot from the left circle early in the last period for Finland's fourth goal.

Sweden beat Canada in Saturday's bronze-medal game.