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U.S. men’s hockey beats Czech Republic to advance to semifinals

02.19.14 at 2:22 pm ET
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The United States men’s hockey team is headed to the medal round for the third time in the last four Olympics. Five different players scored goals as the Americans beat the Czech Republic, 5-2, in Wednesday’s quarterfinal matchup.

The U.S. will take on Canada in the semifinals on Friday in a rematch of the 2010 gold medal game. The Canadians squeaked by Latvia on Wednesday, needing a goal from Shea Weber with 6:54 left in regulation to break a 1-1 tie before holding on for the 2-1 win.

In its game, the U.S. opened the scoring just 1:39 in. Patrick Kane cycled the puck down low to Ryan Kesler, who then made a nice play to get it to James van Riemsdyk while getting knocked to the ice. Van Riemsdyk then walked out front and snuck a shot between Ondrej Pavelec and the post.

The Czech Republic answered less than three minutes later on a bit of a lucky goal (or unlucky for the Americans). Ales Hemsky drove down the slot, but Jonathan Quick (21 saves) stopped his initial chance. Ryan McDonagh tried to clear the rebound, but inadvertently fired it off defensive partner Ryan Suter‘€™s leg and into the net.

The Czechs threatened to take the lead several times over the next 10 minutes. Petr Nedved hit the crossbar, Hemsky fired a shot that trickled behind Quick before getting cleared off the goal line by McDonagh, and then Michael Frolik had a golden rebound chance poked off his stick by Kevin Shattenkirk.

But it was the Americans who wound up breaking the tie. With 5:22 left in the first, Dustin Brown scored off a beautiful feed from David Backes to give the U.S. a 2-1 lead. The Americans upped the lead to 3-1 with 1.8 seconds left in the first. Suter fired intentionally wide from the point and got a perfect bounce off the end boards, allowing Backes to collect the puck and beat Pavelec from in close.

The U.S. added to its lead and effectively put the game out of reach midway through the second. Joe Pavelski fired a shot from the point that got deflected wide, but the puck caromed off the end boards right to Zach Parise, who slipped it through Pavelec’€™s legs.

Phil Kessel tacked on another goal for good measure, burying a nice pass from Kesler 2:01 into the third period. With the goal, Kessel now leads the tournament in points (8) and is tied of the tournament lead in goals (5). Hemsky cut the USA’s lead to 5-2 with seven minutes left in the game, but that was as close as the Czechs would get.

Sweden will take on Finland in Friday’s other semifinal.

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