Fri, May 07, 2004 - Page 22 News List

US stuns Czech Republic

WORLD HOCKEY CHAMPIONSHIPS Andy Roach, a young defenseman who plays for Mannheim in the German league, scored the only goal in a penalty shootout

AP , PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC

Andy Roach, right, of the US, scores the winning goal on a penalty shot against goalkeeper Tomas Vokoun of the Czech Republic during their quarterfinal match in the World Hockey Championships in Prague, Wednesday.

PHOTO: AFP

Andy Roach scored the only goal in a penalty shootout Wednesday as the US upset host Czech Republic to reach the semifinals at the World Hockey Championships.

The teams were tied 2-2 after regulation and a 10-minute overtime with only four skaters on each team, forcing the penalty shootout.

The first four shooters on each team blew it, either hitting the crossbar and the post while American Ty Conklin made two saves.

Roach, a 30-year-old defenseman who plays for Mannheim in the German league, finally got the goal, making a left-to-right fake in front of Tomas Vokoun, then stuffing the puck into the open net.

Jiri Dopita took the next one for the Czechs, but shot wide.

"An American who coaches in the German league had seen this kid [Roach] in many, many shootouts," US head coach Peter Laviolette said. "And he guaranteed that this kid has a move that won't be stopped."

The Americans celebrated on the ice in the same city where the US won its first world championship title in 1932.

"I jumped pretty high when they didn't score the last one," Laviolette said. "It was awesome. Our guys played like warriors tonight. We had an entire team that showed up and played their hearts out."

The US will play Sweden in Saturday's semifinals. Sweden, last year's runner-up, beat Latvia 4-1 in the other quarterfinal Wednesday.

The other big American hero was Conklin, who stopped 36 shots in regulation and shutout the Czechs in overtime and the shootout.

"This is big for us," the Edmonton Oilers goalie said. "It was exciting. Now we get two days off ... we're looking forward to Sweden.

The US, which finished fourth and last in its qualifying group to get the best team in the other qualifying pool in the quarterfinals, rallied from a 2-0 deficit in regulation.

After a scoreless first period when the Americans once blew a 5-against-3 power-play opportunity during a span of 1:26 midway through, Martin Skoula gave the Czechs a 1-0 lead at 3:15 in the second session.

Jaromir Jagr, the former NHL scoring champion and the leading goalscorer in the tournament, made it 2-0 on the power-play goal at 6:04.

But the Americans came back. Richard Park of the Minnesota Wild cut the score at 10:19 and then Jan Novak accidentally tipped in a shot by the Phoenix Coyotes Erik Westrum past his own goalie at 11:01 in the third period.

Earlier, Ottawa Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson had one goal and one assist to lead Sweden over Latvia.

In the other two quarterfinals, both scheduled for Thursday, Slovakia plays Switzerland and Canada takes on Finland.

The Swedes, who lost last year's final on a controversial overtime goal against Canada, got the least rest of all final eight teams, despite finishing second in their qualifying group. After playing the late game Monday and traveling five hours from Ostrava by train to Prague -- they got the early game Wednesday.

But the Swedes showed no fatigue against Latvia, taking a 3-0 lead in the first period.

Jonas Hoglund tipped in Alfredsson's pass past Arturs Irbe, the Carolina Hurricanes goalie who started his fifth game in the tournament, just 2:38 into the game with Latvia one man short.

Hoglund, who was questionable before the tournament because of a groin injury he sustained April 16 in the Euro Hockey Tour finals against Finland, has scored three goals in the tournament. A former NHLer who spent several seasons with the Toronto Maple Leafs, Hoglund returned to Europe and played in the Swiss league with Davos this season.

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