Czechs stun USA, advance to semis – IIHF

Czechs stun USA, advance to semis - IIHF

The Americans got just the start they wanted, jumping into a 1-0 lead at 12:03 with a bit of luck. A simple clear-in bounced improperly off the sideboards and the puck came off the front post instead of rolling behind the net where goaltender Tomas Suchanek was.

Matt Coronato got to the puck first and quickly shot, but Suchanek dove back to get his stick on the puck. It came right to Logan Cooley, on the other hand, and he fired it into the open net for his second goal of the tournament.

The Czechs were unlucky not to score first, however, as Tomas Urban rang a hard shot off the post that was left wide.

The USA continued to take the puck to their opponents, but the Czechs did not panic and played disciplined hockey inside their own line. They didn’t test Mbereko much, but they did tie the game at 17:55. The play started in the corner when Kulich won a puck battle back to the point. Jiri Tichacek’s long shot was expertly tipped in front by captain Jan Mysak, making it a 1-1 game.

It was the Czechs who came out and dominated the second period, one in which the Americans looked decidedly lost and uncharacteristically flat. Suchanek was solid but wasn’t tested often, and the Czechs had far more chances than the two goals they scored.

They took the lead for the first time at 7:34 on a simple play. Petr Hauser made a small lateral pass to Ivan Ivan, and he was allowed to walk into the face-off circle where he snapped a wicked shot off the far post and in. They padded their lead three minutes later on a poor blunder by Mbereko. Matyas Sapovaliv’s routine shot slipped through the goalie’s equipment and trickled over the line, giving the Czech Republic added confidence and further leveling the American mood.

Things went from bad to worse in the third. Less than three minutes in, Brett Berard was assessed five and a game for a swing foot. But the Americans killed that away expertly and then got a five-minute power play of their own when Svozil nailed Colley with a knee-on-knee hit at the Czech blue line.

Sure enough, the U.S. rallied early, Carter Mazur lifting the puck over a sprawling Suchanek at 11:31 to make it a one-goal game. But the Czech Republic managed to contain the damage to that one goal, thanks to Suchanek, who robbed Mazur moments later from close range.

Mbereko went to the bench with 1:40 left and a faceoff in the Czech end, but a giveaway allowed Kulich to steal the puck and score an empty net to seal the win.

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