U.S. bounces Czech Republic to advance to hockey semifinals
5 different Americans score
The Americans finally have their shot at vindication.
They’ve had four long years to think about their 2010 Olympic gold-medal loss to Team Canada, and now they have a chance to avenge that defeat when the two powerhouse hockey nations collide Friday in the upcoming semifinals of the 2014 Sochi Games (streaming live on cbc.ca/olympics, 12 p.m. ET).
Team USA moved on to the semis by taking down the Czech Republic 5-2 Wednesday, using balanced scoring and strong goaltending to clip the underdog Czechs in the quarter-finals.
American goalie Jonathan Quick said afterwards his team is ready for the challenge of dethroning the reigning Olympic champions.
"We were destined and on a crash course to face each other," said Quick. "It happens to be in the semifinals, not the finals like Vancouver.
"I don't think either team will need any motivation and there will be some great hockey on Friday night."
Quick was solid when called upon in a 21-save effort for the Americans, who narrowly outshot the Czechs 25-23.
He has emerged as the Americans' No. 1 goalie in the tournament, earning the start over veteran Ryan Miller, who was in net for the 2010 final against Canada.
Ryan Suter had three assists and the U.S. got goals from five different players: James van Riemsdyk, Dustin Brown, Phil Kessel, Zach Parise, and David Backes. Ryan Kesler chipped in with a pair of assists.
Parise said the U.S. was looking forward to the tilt with Canada — which survived a scare by edging Latvia 2-1 in the other men's quarter-final — but knows his club has to approach with caution.
"We know how good they are, they have some of the best players in the world," Parise said. "We knew we would probably have to face them at some stage. We know a lot about each other and it's going to be a tough game for both teams.
"These guys are tough but when we play we bring the best out in each other."
Kessel extended his tournament lead in scoring with his fifth goal, to go along with three assists. But all that matters to the Toronto Maple Leafs sniper is winning.
"That's what this team is about," Kessel said. "We are all for each other...That doesn't matter a thing to me. I'm here to win medals not to gain personal tributes."
Ales Hemsky provided the lone offence for the Czechs, scoring a pair of goals in his club’s elimination loss.
Goalie Ondrej Pavelec was pulled from the game midway through the second period, after giving up four goals on 12 shots.
The U.S. has arguably been one of the most impressive teams so far, boasting some balanced scoring and strong goaltending.
The Americans preyed on the vulnerable Pavelec early on. They didn’t pepper the Winnipeg Jets goalie with shots — nine in the first period — but took advantage of his miscues, starting early in the first frame when van Riemsdyk somehow found the tiny space between Pavelec’s leg and the post to open the scoring.
His shot at 1:39 of the first was his first Olympic goal.
The Czechs were able to keep up with the Americans in the first period in every way but the scoreboard. Despite only being outshot 9-7 in the period, they found themselves on the wrong side of a 3-1 score.
Parise’s first goal of the tournament midway through the second period spelled the end of Pavelec’s night. He left with his club down 4-1, but looked rather uncomfortable right from the puck drop.
Playing in his second game in as many nights, the 26-year-old gave up four goals on 12 shots and gave way to Aleksander Salak.
The Czechs used some nifty passing and a bit of luck to even things up at 1-1 midway through the first. Alex Hemsky got credit for the goal after it was initially awarded to Milan Michalek.
Ryan McDonagh tried to clear the puck from out front of his own net, but it deflected off the skate of teammate Ryan Suter and past a sprawling Quick.
The Czechs had a disappointing round robin, having to go through the qualification round – and beating Slovakia – to get to the quarter-finals against the U.S.
The U.S. finished atop Group A with two regulation wins and a shootout win.