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Yugoslavia fights its way back into draw with Russia

Published Sep. 16, 2005

Viktor Jelenic of Yugoslavia scored a late goal Sunday to salvage a 9-9 draw with Russia.

Yugoslavia, one of the favorites for the gold medal, wasted a three-goal lead and had to battle hard from one goal down to clinch the draw.

Also Sunday, Tamas Kasas scored three goals and notched the winner late in Hungary's 9-8 victory over Germany, while Croatia beat Romania 11-6.

The Yugoslavs led 8-5 late in the third quarter after a 4-1 run. But the Russians used aggressive pressing to force several Yugoslav turnovers and even the score.

Dmitri Gorchkov scored Russia's ninth goal with 3:03 left.

Jelenic had a shot saved by goalkeeper Nikolai Maximov, but he clinched the equalizer with 21 seconds remaining on a power-play goal.

"The Russians were tough in the defense," said Yugoslav coach Dragan Andric. "We lack tough games like that, we haven't been in stress situations. Many of my players are in their first major competition."

The Yugoslavs, Olympic champions in 1968, 1984 and 1988, were barred from the 1992 Barcelona Games because of U.N. sanctions and had not competed in a major event for nearly four years. The team now consists of players only from Serbia and Montenegro.

Croatia got three goals from captain Perica Bukic in defeating Romania.

Four teams from each of the two six-nation round-robin groups will advance to the quarterfinals, when the competition becomes single elimination.

LATE SATURDAY: Italy, the defending European and Olympic champions, handed the United States a convincing 10-7 loss, clearly showing that despite head coach Ratko Rudic's decision to virtually remake his team just months ago (he cut eight players from the championship team), the Italians still are the team to beat.

The Italians took a quick 4-1 advantage, then allowed the United States to tie the score before the half. But the Italians then took the lead back and kept it, scoring three unanswered goals for a 7-4 third-period lead. The Americans, clueless in second-half man-advantage situations, never got closer than two after that.