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U.S. Advances, Belarus Eliminated at WC

by Aaron Lopez / Colorado Avalanche
John-Michael Liles and the United States advanced to the semifinal round at the 2009 International Ice Hockey Federation Men’s World Championship with a 3-2 win over Finland on Wednesday.

The United States will face Team Russia on Friday, May 8 at 8:15 a.m. MT with a berth in the gold medal game on the line. The gold and bronze medal games will be contested on Sunday, May 10.

Russia advanced to the semifinals courtesy of a 4-3 win over Ruslan Salei and Team Belarus on Wednesday. The loss eliminated Belarus from the tournament.

Universal Sports will provide both live streaming and television coverage of all quarterfinal, semifinal and medal games of the 2009 IIHF Men's World Championship.

John-Michael Liles – United States
Liles, one of the tournament’s most effective defensemen, saw 19:24 of action during Wednesday’s win over Finland and recorded one shot on goal with a +1 plus/minus rating.

Overall, the Indianapolis native is tied for the team lead in scoring with seven points (1g/6a) in seven games at the event. Liles is also tied for second among all tournament defensemen in scoring. Canada’s Shea Weber has posted 10 points (4g/6a), while Sweden’s Magnus Johansson also has seven points (3g/4a).

Click here for Team USA stats

The contest marked the third straight year the U.S. and Finland have faced off in the quarterfinal round. Finland took a 3-2 overtime decision from the Americans a year ago and earned a 5-4 shootout victory in 2007.

Wednesday’s win marked Team USA’s first victory in quarterfinal play since 2004. That year, the squad beat the Czech Republic 3-2 in the quarters en route to a bronze medal finish.

Ruslan Salei – Belarus
Belarus’ run at the tournament came to an end with Wednesday’s loss to defending world champion Russia. Salei netted a power-play goal in the contest, but Atlanta Thrashers star Ilya Kovalchuk scored the game-winner in the third period for Russia.

Salei skated for 28:43 in Wednesday’s game and currently leads all players at the event by averaging 29:18 of ice time. New York Islanders defenseman Mark Streit – representing host Switzerland – ranks second with an average ice time of 28:00.

Salei led all Belarus defensemen and finished fourth on the team overall with five points (2g/3a) at the tournament while playing in six of the squad’s seven games. The Minsk native’s 16 shots on goal topped all Belarus blueliners.

Click here for Belarus stats

Team Belarus earned an eighth-place finish at the event, marking its best showing since the country garnered the sixth overall spot in 2006.
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