Czechs edge Team USA in quarterfinal shootout

Updated: May 12, 2005, 10:05 PM ET
Associated Press

VIENNA, Austria -- Andy Roach nearly struck again in the shootout.

Roach held the United States' hopes on his stick but Tomas Vokoun stopped his backhander, giving the Czech Republic a 3-2 quarterfinals victory Thursday at the world hockey championship.

Martin Rucinsky netted the lone shootout goal, sending the Czechs into Saturday's semifinals against Sweden, the runners-up in the past two years. Sweden beat Switzerland 2-1 on Thursday in Innsbruck.

Canada beat Slovakia 5-4 in Innsbruck to advance to the semifinals. The two-time defending champions will face Russia, a 4-3 winner over Finland in another game decided by a shootout in Vienna.

A year ago in Prague, Roach knocked the host Czech Republic out of the quarters with the only goal in that shootout. Vokoun took a lot of blame for that loss.

"Tomas pulled some big saves in the penalty shootout, keeping a clean sheet," Czech coach Vladimir Ruzicka said. "I'm very happy for Tomas because not all our fans had confidence in him."

Vokoun was beaten last year by Roach's left-right move that created an open net. But this time, Vokoun snagged Roach's shot with his glove and immediately raised his arms in celebration.

"He obviously knew what I did last year, so I tried to do a little different and go to the backhand, and he made a great save," Roach said. "They had the momentum going into the overtime and the shootout, scoring the two goals late."

The United States, which squandered a 2-0 lead, won't get the opportunity to match or top its bronze medal of 2004.

Roach, a defenseman who played in Switzerland this season after four years in Germany, was the last of five U.S. skaters in the shootout. He needed to score to even the tiebreaker at 1, but was the fifth shooter stopped by Vokoun -- the Nashville Predators' star goalie.

Mike Modano and Mark Parrish staked the Americans to a 2-0 advantage that carried over to the third period.

Marek Zidlicky cut it to 2-1 at 1:40 with a wrist shot from the point that got past screened goalie Rick DiPietro. Jaroslav Spacek tied it at 9:50, banging the puck in while DiPietro was out of position after heavy Czech pressure.

"We kind of let our guard down a little bit in the second period," Roach said. "Sometimes that's what happens. It's not bad luck."

Neither team would score again, even after a 10-minute, sudden-death overtime period.

After Mike Knuble missed on the United States' first shootout attempt, Rucinsky solved DiPietro with a nifty backhander.

Doug Weight went next for the U.S., but hit the post.

DiPietro, the 23-year-old goalie from the New York Islanders, made 50 saves before the shootout. He gave the Americans a chance to tie it by stopping three straight Czech attempts, but Vokoun made Rucinsky's goal stand up by turning aside Modano, Parrish and Roach.

"It's a tough way to lose. It is something I'm not a big fan of," Modano said of the shootout. "You play 70 minutes, then it's tough to come out on a breakaway with any confidence not knowing what the puck is going to do, whether it's going to sit down or you're going to have some bobble on you."

Zach Parise, who failed on a penalty-shot attempt in the United States' 1-1 tie with Ukraine in the second round, wasn't called upon again by coach Peter Laviolette.

Modano gave the Americans a 1-0 lead 9:18 in when he steered in a pass from Erik Cole for the captain's third goal in seven games. Parrish made it 2-0 at 5:47 of the second with a backhander that found the top of the net during a power play.

Vokoun made 11 saves in the third period and overtime, keeping his team in the game.

"The overtime period is always a shaky period, but the penalty shootout was great ... I had a lot of fun out there," Vokoun said.

Canada reached the semifinals by rallying from three one-goal deficits. Joe Thornton scored his sixth goal of the tournament with 4:22 remaining to put Slovakia away.

Simon Gagne had two goals, and Dany Heatley and Ryan Smyth also scored for Canada.

"Smitty, Mo and myself pride ourselves on playing in the big games, and I think we played well," Heatley said of his line that includes Smyth and Brendan Morrison and combined for four points. "We were strong in our end. We shook off the early goal, gutted it out, and wore them down."

Pavol Demitra scored twice for Slovakia. Marian Gaborik and Michal Handzus added goals.


Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press

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