Vrana scores 2:38 into extra session

Updated: January 5, 2005, 8:33 PM ET
Associated Press

GRAND FORKS, N.D. -- Petr Vrana's overtime goal gave the Czech Republic a 3-2 win over the United States for the bronze medal in the World Junior Hockey Championship.

The result denied the defending champion U.S. team a chance at a second straight medal, which it has never accomplished.

"It would have been huge, but it just didn't go our way," said U.S. forward Drew Stafford, who scored a goal. "There's not much you can say other than it's really disappointing."

Vrana scored at 2:38 of overtime when he skated around U.S. defenseman Jeff Likens and moved in on goal. With Likens pestering him from behind, Vrana managed a soft shot that went through the legs of goalie Al Montoya.

"It was a very weak goal but it went in and that's all that matters," Vrana said. "I just tried to put it on net."

Stafford said Likens should not be blamed for the goal.

"It could have been anyone in that situation," Stafford said. "You don't want to single anyone out like that. We started as a team and we ended as a team."

Czech Marek Schwarz, considered one of the top goalies in the tournament, made 33 saves, including 14 in the third period when the U.S. team controlled play.

Schwarz also had help late in the period from teammate Milan Hluchy, who knocked down a shot in the crease by U.S. forward Jacob Dowell, who was staring at an open net with Schwarz out of position.

"Thank you," said a smiling Schwarz, asked what he said to Hluchy.

Michael Frolik had a goal and assist for the Czech Republic. Teammate Michal Polak scored the team's first goal.

Kevin Porter notched the other goal for the United States.

The U.S team fought back from one-goal deficits on two occasions, the second time when home crowd favorite Stafford scored a power-play goal at 13:12 of the second period.

Stafford, the University of North Dakota sophomore, connected on a slap shot from the left circle while his team was skating with a four-on-three advantage. That tied it at 2-2.

The two teams played scoreless hockey for the next 30:26 until the Czechs, as U.S. coach Scott Sandelin said, "got the last bounce."


Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press

ALSO SEE