U.S. advances to semifinal game against Russia

Updated: January 3, 2006, 8:09 AM ET
Associated Press

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- Cory Schneider made 30 saves and Phil Kessel and Chris Bourque scored goals to lead the United States to a 2-1 quarterfinal victory over the Czech Republic on Monday night in the world junior championship.

The United States will face Group B winner Russia in the semifinals Tuesday night.

Kessel, the University of Minnesota freshman star expected to be the top pick in the NHL draft, opened the scoring on a power play at 3:23 of the first period, and he assisted on Bourque's goal at 11:08. Bourque, the son of Hall of Famer Ray Bourque, plays for the Washington Capitals' Hershey affiliate in the American Hockey League.

Kessel has one goal and nine assists for a tournament-high 10 points, and Bourque is the top goal scorer in the event with seven.

Ladislav Smid pulled the Czech Republic within a goal on a power play at 12:17 of the opening period, but Schneider -- a Boston College sophomore -- made the lead stand.

"I felt good tonight," said Schneider, a first-round draft pick by Vancouver in 2004. "The first period was like a shooting gallery at both ends. Down the stretch my forwards and defensemen did a great job blocking shots. They really helped me out."

Schneider was impressed by a Czech team that took shots from every angle.

"They're very good at pulling up, coming into the zone and finding the last guy," he said. "They shot the puck hard and were shooting from everywhere, so you have to be on your toes."

In the other quarterfinal, Tuuka Rask made 53 saves and Teemo Laakso scored on a power play at 9:26 of overtime to give Finland a 1-0 victory over Sweden.

Finland will play Group A winner Canada on Tuesday night.

"I was tired, very tired," said Rask, drafted in the first round by the Toronto Maple Leafs last summer. "It's a big win for us. Sweden against Finland is the same as the States against Canada."

The Finns opened round-round play with a 4-1 loss to Canada on Dec. 26.

"Tomorrow ... we need this kind of goaltending," Finnish coach Hannu Aravirta said. "It was unbelievable. I [haven't] seen a similar game from a goalie."

With Sweden's Tobias Viklund serving a tripping penalty, Laakso beat goalie Daniel Larsson off a scramble in front the net to end the game.

"Raskie played a really good game and one goal was enough," said Laakso, a Nashville draft choice. "I don't know what [would have] happened without him."

Larsson finished with 24 saves.

"This is the maybe the toughest loss of my career," Swedish coach Trogny Bendelin said. "I've been head coach for the international team and this is my third world championship. This is the best game we've played against the Finns in my time and the team just couldn't play better. The team and the players are completely devastated."

In a relegation game, Julian Walker and Juraj Simek each had a goal and an assist, and Reto Berra made 23 saves in Switzerland's 5-2 victory over Latvia.

Mathias Joggi, Alessandro Chiesa and Dario Burgler also scored for Switzerland. Andis Abolins and Martins Karsums scored for Latvia.

On Wednesday, Latvia will face Norway, and Switzerland will play Slovakia.


Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press

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