Thu, May 18, 2006 - Page 20 News List

Sweden and US to face off in world quarterfinal action

AP , RIGA, LATVIA

Dustin Brown scored his team-leading fifth goal on Tuesday to lead the US over the Czech Republic 3-1, setting up a quarterfinal meeting with Olympic champion Sweden at the World Championship.

The Americans finished third in Group E with a 3-2 record and six points. Canada topped the group with eight points, followed by Finland with seven. The Czechs, who had six points, also made the quarterfinals.

"I think it was our best game so far," US head coach Mike Eaves said. "All our lines, all our units, played very well together and was a strong contributing factor to the victory today.

"It's a good time to have a good team game at this point of the tournament and we're looking ahead to the next game."

Sweden, which plays the US on Wednesday, was second in Group F with six points, three behind Russia.

Belarus beat Switzerland 2-1 to qualify from Group F with six points. Later, Slovakia faced Ukraine and needed at least a tie to move past Switzerland and take the last quarterfinal spot.

Ryan Malone of the Pittsburgh Penguins paced the Americans with one goal and one assist. Mark Cullen scored the other goal.

Zbynek Michalek scored for the Czechs, cutting the Americans' lead to 2-1 at 7:25 in the second period.

The US capitalized on a defensive mistake by the Czechs to take a two-goal lead at 7:25 in the third session.

After intercepting the puck near the Czech blue line, Malone set up Brown in front of the goal. The Los Angeles Kings forward, tied for second in goalscoring behind Canada's Sidney Crosby, one-timed the perfect pass with a shot past Czech Republic goalie Milan Hnilicka.

Sweden has only a handful of Olympics champions playing in this championship. The US' roster does not include anyone that played at the Turin Games.

"I know their [Sweden's] style, they play hard, they skate hard," said Hal Gill, a defenseman from the Boston Bruins. "We have to play well to beat them.''

After being shut out by Finland 4-0 in their second-round opener, the Americans beat host Latvia 4-2 to clinch a quarterfinal berth before meeting the Czechs.

"I think we're getting better as a team," Gill said. "We've learned a lot of things. It's a different game over here. It's [the big ice] a big adjustment for everyone. We're picking it up as we go."

Andrei Skabelka and Sergei Zadelenov scored even-strength goals and goalie Andrei Mezin, named player of the game, had 29 saves for Belarus.

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