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Wednesday, May 19, 2004
Bondra, Hossa, Palffy lead 30-goal gang

SportsTicker

MONTREAL -- What Slovakia lacks on defense at the World Cup of Hockey, it hopes to make up for on offense.

Slovakia announced its team for the tournament Wednesday, loading the 26-man roster with proven NHL scorers.

Of the 15 forwards, seven have posted 30-goal seasons in their careers, including Peter Bondra and Marian Hossa of the Ottawa Senators and Ziggy Palffy of the Los Angeles Kings.

Bondra, who was acquired by Ottawa before this season's trade deadline, surpassed the 30-goal plateau nine times with the Washington Capitals, including a pair of 52-goal seasons.

Hossa completed his fourth consecutive 30-goal campaign this year with 36, nine fewer than the career high he established in 2002-03.

Palffy put together three straight seasons of 40-plus goals with the New York Islanders before being traded to the Kings. He lost the opportunity for a fourth consecutive 30-goal campaign this season because of injuries that limited him to 35 games.

Other 30-goal scorers on the Slovakian roster include Pavol Demitra of the St. Louis Blues, Marian Gaborik of the Minnesota Wild, Richard Zednik of the Montreal Canadiens and Buffalo Sabres right wing Miroslav Satan, who scored 40 in 1998-99.

Also named to the team were Michal Handzus, Branko Radivojevic and Radovan Somik of the Philadelphia Flyers; Ladislav Nagy of the Phoenix Coyotes; Vladimir Orszagh of the Nashville Predators; and Jozef Stumpel of Los Angeles.

Former NHL player Lubomir Bartecko and Miroslav Hlinka of HC Zlin round out Slovakia's forwards.

On defense, the Slovakians boast the tallest NHL player, Zdeno Chara of Ottawa. A Norris Trophy finalist, 6-foot-9 Chara posted career highs this season with 16 goals and 41 points.

Los Angeles' Lubomir Visnovsky, Phoenix's Radoslav Suchy, Ivan Majesky of the Atlanta Thrashers, Branislav Mezei of the Florida Panthers, Jaroslav Obsut of the Vancouver Canucks, Martin Strbak of Pittsburgh and former Penguin Richard Lintner complete Slovakia's unheralded defense.

The one area where Slovakia lacks NHL experience is in goal. Jan Lasak appeared in six games with Nashville over two seasons before playing in Russia this year. Rastislav Stana made his NHL debut with Washington in 2003-04, making six appearances, and Colorado Avalanche prospect Peter Budaj spent the entire campaign in the minor leagues.