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Slovakia hopes to win a gold for Pavol Demitra

May 19, 2012, 8:44 PM EDT

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Czech Republic v Slovakia - 2012 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship Getty Images

After failing to win a medal at the World Championships for nearly 10 years, Slovakia is one win away from gold in 2012. Chris Johnston reports that it’s more about timely scoring, though: the underdogs are trying to win it for Pavol Demitra.

“We all know that we’re not playing just for us,” Zdeno Chara said. “We’re playing for our country and obviously with the tragedy that happened … it’s also for Pav.”

Tomas Kopecky couldn’t help but think of his fallen former teammate when the Slovakian team scored a surprise win against Canada with a late tally.

“When you look at the game against Canada, after we scored the third goal, I just looked up and said ‘Thanks God,'” Kopecky said. “He’s with us, it’s unbelievable. It’s just a great feeling.”

If nothing else, the gold will go to a team heavily impacted by that awful accident in Yaroslavl. The Russian team faces Slovakia in the gold medal game and they lost plenty of former teammates and friends in the crash. Either way, it’s an inspiring story that Johnston calls “the kind of story usually reserved for the movies.”

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