Sat, Jan 01, 2005 - Page 19 News List

Czech's hand Americans big loss

AP , GRAND FORKS, NORTH DAKOTA

Vladislav Koutsky made 38 saves to lead the Czech Republic to a 3-1 victory over the US in the World Junior Hockey Championship.

The loss Thursday dropped the Americans into third place in Group A with a 2-2 record. The US team will face Sweden in the quarterfinals on Saturday. The Swedes beat Slovakia 3-0 Thursday.

"He definitely played really well," American Drew Stafford said of Koutsky. "We had a lot of opportunities to tie the game in the third period. We can't dwell on this, we have to keep plugging away."

The Czechs took the lead when Rostislav Olesz beat American goalie Al Montoya with a shot high on the glove side at 12:56 of the first period.

In the second period, Lukas Bolf knocked down a clearing attempt at his own blue line and found Lukas Kaspar streaking toward the net to put the Czechs up 2-0.

Dan Fritsche cut the deficit to 2-1 when he slipped down the boards and beat Koutsky over the shoulder on the stick side. The Americans took 39 shots on goal, but struggled to put the puck past Koutsky.

"I think it helped out a bit," Koutsky said through an interpreter. "You know when a goalie faces a lot of shots it helps him stay in the zone."

The Czechs (3-1) added an empty-net goal in the final minute. They finished second in Group A and will play Finland on Saturday.

In Thursday's first game, Jeff Carter scored three goals in the second period to lead Canada to an 8-1 victory over Finland. Corey Perry added a pair of goals, while Jeff Glass made 19 saves for Canada (4-0).

The win earned Canada the top seed in Group B and a bye into the semifinals, which begin Sunday.

"It's nice to come out undefeated," Carter said. "But we still have a long way to go."

Canada has outscored its four opponents 32-5 and allowed just one goal in its last eight periods of play.

"This team is unbelievable," Carter said. "We knew we had some chemistry coming into the tournament, but it just keeps getting better and better. We were clicking today."

Canada needed just seven seconds of power play time to score the game's first goal, when Perry knocked in a loose puck at 4:45 of the first period.

"Today was a day where we were a very focused hockey club," coach Brent Sutter said. "Right from the opening face off we were focused on what we needed to do."

In Thief River Falls, Minnesota, Russia finished pool play with a 6-1 win over Switzerland. The Russians (3-1) scored a pair of goals in the final three minutes of the second period and finished first in Group A.

Despite identical 3-1 records, Russia finished ahead of the Czech Republic because of its 4-1 win over the Czechs on Monday.

Sweden, Slovakia and Finland all finished 2-2 in Group B, but only the Swedes and Finns advanced to the quarterfinals because they scored more goals in games between the tied teams.

Slovakia will play Belarus (1-3) on Sunday in the relegation round. The Swiss (1-3), who also failed to advance, will play Germany (0-4) on Saturday.

Jeff Carter scored three goals in the second period to lead Canada to an 8-1 victory over Finland.

Corey Perry added a pair of goals and Jeff Glass made 19 saves for Canada (4-0) on Thursday.

The win earns Canada the top seed in Group B and a bye to the tournament semifinals, which begin Sunday. Finland finished pool play at 2-2. Canada has outscored four opponents 32-5 and allowed just one goal in its final eight periods.

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