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U.S. Men Advance to Semifinals with Win Against Czech Republic

02/19/2014, 12:15pm MST
By USAHockey.com

SOCHI, Russia – The U.S. Olympic Men’s Ice Hockey Team received goals from five different players in its 5-2 quarterfinal round win over Czech Republic at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games. David Backes (Minneapolis, Minn./St. Louis Blues) posted a goal and an assist, Ryan Suter (Madison, Wis./Minnesota Wild) supplied three assists and Jonathan Quick (Milford, Conn./Los Angeles Kings) made 21 saves.

Team USA will play Canada in Friday’s (Feb. 21) semifinals. The U.S. is in the semifinals for the third time in the last four Olympics.

Team USA grabbed a 1-0 advantage just 1:39 into the game. Patrick Kane (Buffalo, N.Y./Chicago Blackhawks) and Ryan Kesler (Livonia, Mich./Vancouver Canucks) cycled the puck along the right wall before sliding it to James van Riemsdyk (Middletown, N.J./Toronto Maple Leafs) behind the net. Van Riemsdyk curled around the right side of the crease and wristed the puck shortside between Ondrej Pavelec’s glove and left leg.

The Czechs tied the game at 4:31 on a scramble in front of the net that was credited to Ales Hemsky.

Dustin Brown (Ithaca, N.Y./Los Angeles Kings) buried a cross-ice feed from Backes at 14:38 to deliver a 2-1 lead. Suter corralled a blocked shot at the right point and sent the puck to Backes. From the lower right circle, Backes lasered a pass through the defense to Brown, who had a gaping net at which to shoot.

Backes boosted the U.S. lead to 3-1 with just two seconds left in the opening frame. Suter’s shot deflected wide and caromed hard out to the right of the goal. Backes spun to recover the puck and rifled it past sprawling a Pavelec.

Zach Parise (Minneapolis, Minn./Minnesota Wild) notched the third sharp-angle goal of the day for Team USA at 9:31 of the second stanza, making it 4-1. Joe Pavelski’s (Plover, Wis./San Jose Sharks) slapshot ricocheted off the end boards to the left side of the crease, where Parise slid it under Pavelec’s right leg.

At 2:01 of the third period, Phil Kessel (Madison, Wis./Toronto Maple Leafs) notched his team-best fifth goal of the tournament. Kesler led a two-on-two opportunity down the left side and found Kessel streaking to the right post for a redirection into the net.

Hemsky supplied the second Czech Republic goal with seven minutes left in regulation.

The semifinal game vs. Canada will begin at noon ET and be broadcast live on NBC Sports Network.

Date Result Opponent
Thurs., Feb. 13 W, 7-1 Slovakia
Sat., Feb. 15 W, 3-2 (SO) Russia
Sun., Feb. 16 W, 5-1 Slovenia
Wed., Feb. 19 W, 5-2 Czech Republic (Quarterfinals)
Fri., Feb. 21 L, 0-1 Canada (Semifinals)
Sat., Feb. 22 L, 0-5 Finland (Bronze Medal Game)

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“Re-sizing the playing surface to cross-ice or half-ice means more puck touches, which result in more chances to practice puck control and shooting, as well as overall more movement and motor skill-development – twisting, turning, balance, coordination, agility,” said Paul Carson, vice-president of membership development for Hockey Canada, in a release today. “Their field-of-play matches their size, and these players hone in on their skill-development in a way that larger ice surfaces just aren’t conducive to.”

The Grassroots Show on Ottawa’s TSN 1200 weighed in on the decision. Click the audio link below to hear how Canada is embracing cross-ice hockey for the coming season and beyond.

Tom Renney, president and CEO of Hockey Canada, appeared on the Grassroots Show to discuss the nationwide shift to cross-ice hockey, beginning this fall for 5- and 6-year-olds and expanding to all of Canada's Novice (8U) level in 2018-19.

“When you see 10 or 12 or 14 or 16 kids out on the ice in between periods and they’re playing 200-by-85 and 3 or 4 kids touch the puck in that whole six minutes, yet there’s people in the stands clapping and thinking it’s wonderful, I just can’t help but think about the 95 percent of the children that didn’t even touch the puck or get from one end of the rink to the other and I ask myself what are we doing when the opportunity is certainly there to have 30 kids on the ice playing cross-ice and everyone is having a much better opportunity to touch the puck, skate a shorter distance and really play. It just boggles my mind,” said Renney.

“We completely embrace, at the Initiation level and the Novice level, cross-ice hockey and we have mandated that in the Initiation program and we will mandate it across the country in Novice hockey.

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