Hannula's hat trick lifts Sweden past USA, into semis
RIGA, Latvia -- Mika Hannula's hat trick helped Olympic champion Sweden beat the United States 6-0 Wednesday in the quarterfinals at the World Ice Hockey Championship.
Sweden goalie Johan Holmqvist had 18 saves, earning his first shutout in five games in the tournament.
The Swedes advance to face Canada, which scored three goals in a span of 1:39 in the third period to beat Slovakia 4-1 in a later quarterfinal. On Thursday, Russia faces the Czech Republic and Finland plays Belarus.
Coming into the game, the U.S. had allowed just 10 goals, tied with Finland and Slovakia for the fewest given up in the tournament.
But the Americans came out flat against Sweden, falling behind 1-0 when Hannula scored 2:48 into the game. Hannula made it 2-0 late in the period, knocking in a rebound from close range off a shot by Niklas Kronwall, another Olympic gold medalist.
"We knew we had a tough opponent," Swedish coach Bengt-Ake Gustafsson said. "The start of the game was so important for us. We got a 2-0 lead and after that we thought we controlled the game pretty good.
"Luckily we got a couple of more goals. But the win is the most important thing and now we're looking forward to the semifinal."
Hannula completed his hat trick halfway through the third period after taking a perfect feed from Jonas Nordquist.
Mikael Samuelsson and Kenny Jonsson scored for Sweden in the second period, with Jonsson's goal coming on a power play. Andreas Karlsson notched another power-play goal to complete the scoring late in the third period.
The United States finished 4-3 in the championship. Of the 10 quarterfinals played since 1992, the United States has qualified for all but one.
"We did not have our 'A' game," U.S. coach Mike Eaves said. "Part of that is because Sweden played so well. They won a lot of battles. We were just never able to get a spark and get back our game we had yesterday [against the Czechs]."
The United States had one of the youngest teams in the tournament, and the roster did not include anyone that played at the Winter Olympics.
"We had the opportunity to give a lot of young kids experience at the international level," Eaves said. "That was important for us and will pay dividends down the line."
In the later quarterfinal, Sidney Crosby scored one of the third-period goals for Canada. Crosby leads the tournament in scoring with seven goals and six assists in seven games.
"We had to stay patient ... we stayed positive," Bergeron said. "It's not always going to be easy out there. We knew that Slovakia had a great team. They played great. They didn't give us too much."
Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press
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