Babcock relief as team squeaks home

Sat Feb 27, 2010 8:13am EST
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By Steve Keating

VANCOUVER (Reuters) - Canada set the stage for an explosive end to the Olympics by surviving a nail-biting 3-2 win over the Slovakian giantkillers on Friday, earning a date with the United States in the men's ice hockey gold medal game.

It will mark the second time in three Winter Games the North American rivals have clashed for the gold medal that hockey mad Canadians covet more than any other.

The victory also earned Canada a shot at revenge for a 5-3 preliminary round loss to the young Americans that forced the hosts to play a qualification game against Germany.

"In the end we feel fortunate to do what we came here for, which is to play for the gold medal," Team Canada coach Mike Babcock told reporters.

"Absolutely thrilled for our young guys and our team and this opportunity especially at home in Canada and to get another shot at the U.S.

"I think it is real special.

"You may find this hard to believe but it doesn't matter to me who we're playing."


<p>Patrick Marleau (11) of Canada celebrates his goal against Slovakia with Dany Heatley (15) in their mens's play-offs semifinals hockey game at the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics February 26, 2010. REUTERS/Todd Korol</p>