MOSCOW, Russia – The U.S. Men’s National Team received third-period tallies from Chad LaRose (Fraser, Mich./Carolina Hurricanes) and Andrew Hutchinson (Evanston, Ill./Carolina Hurricanes/Michigan State University) to rally back from a two-goal deficit, but dropped a 4-3 decision to the Czech Republic on a late goal here tonight in the preliminary-round of the 2007 International Ice Hockey Federation World Championship.
Team USA, which claimed the No. 2 seed in Group B, now owns a 2-0-0-1 record (W-OTW-OTL-L) record heading into the qualification round.
“We played an extremely skilled Czech team tonight,” said Mike Sullivan, head coach of Team USA. “I thought we offered them too much respect early. We’re better when we’re on the attack as opposed to backing off and defending. I give our guys a lot of credit. We played with a never-say-die attitude, particularly in the third period.”
The Czech Republic’s Petr Caslava scored the lone goal of the first period when he tipped in a pass from Jaroslav Hlinka on the power play at the 16:52 mark.
The teams traded goals in the second period to make it a 2-1 contest. Team USA’s Ryan Suter (Madison, Wis./Nashville Predators/University of Wisconsin) evened the game with a power-play tally at 4:42, while Zbynek Irgl’s shot from the right faceoff circle beat U.S. netminder John Grahame (Denver, Colo./Carolina Hurricanes/Lake Superior State University) to the far side at 14:37.
A goal by Petr Tenkrat gave the Czech Republic a 3-1 lead 7:51 into the third period. LaRose then brought Team USA back within a goal when he notched a shorthanded tally from the right faceoff circle off a feed from Keith Ballard (Baudette, Minn./Phoenix Coyotes/University of Minnesota) at 13:59.
Hutchinson tied the game with a power-play blast from the point at the 15:37 mark of the final frame, but Jaroslav Bednar notched the game-winning goal for the Czech Republic with just 1:08 remaining in the contest.
Grahame stopped 20-of-24 shots in goal for Team USA. The United States finished 2-for-9 on the power play, while Belarus was 1-for-6 with the man advantage.
The United States will face either Slovakia or Canada on Thursday (May 3) in the first qualification-round game for both teams. Opening faceoff is set for 4:15 p.m. (local time)/8:15 a.m. (EDT).