May 11, 2011

Czechs oust U.S. men from Worlds in quarters

Petr Caslava of the Czech Republic and Team USA's Blake Wheeler collide during Wednesday's game. (photo: Getty)

BRATISLAVA, Slovakia – Jaromir Jagr scored three times to lead defending world champion Czech Republic to a 4-0 victory over the U.S. Men's National Team Wednesday in quarterfinal action of the IIHF World Men's Championship.

Team USA, which was eliminated, finishes the tournament with a 3-0-1-3 overall record.

"I thought we played hard," said Scott Gordon (Easton, Mass.), head coach of Team USA. "We had our chances, particularly in the first two periods, but just couldn't get one in the back of the net. This was a terrific group of young players that I really enjoyed coaching."

It was a fast-paced first period with both teams having scoring chances. The U.S. nearly scored just over three minutes into the game when a puck slid behind Czech goaltender Ondrej Pavelec and careened off the post.

Perhaps the best U.S. scoring chance in the period came for Craig Smith on the power play from the slot off a nice feed from Derek Stepan, but Pavelec was equal to the test. The Czechs scored with just 1:15 left in the opening period when Jagr fired a wrist shot from the right face-off circle that beat Ty Conklin (University of New Hampshire).

The U.S. started the second period on the power play and had a brief two-man advantage, but could not convert. The Czech Republic, however, did convert on its two-man advantage at 4:47 when Jagr fired a one-timer from the right face-off circle that hit a piece of Mike Komisarek's stick and deflected past Conklin.

Just past the midway point of the final frame, Tomas Plekanec put the Czech Republic ahead by a 3-0 count when he fired a slap shot from the left face-off circle that beat Conklin high on the glove side. Jagr notched his third goal of the game after a give-and-go with Plekanec that finished off the scoring at 16:25while on the power play.

Conklin made 35 saves in the loss for Team USA, while Pavelec stopped all 29 shots for the Czech Republic in the win.

NOTES: Komisarek was named the U.S. Player of the Game ... Stepan finished as Team USA's point leader with 2-5--7 in seven games. Smith was second in points with 3-3-6and paced Team USAin goals ... Team USA's three best players of the tournament were Ryan Shannon (Darien, Conn.), Stepan and Smith.