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by Staff Writer / Arizona Coyotes

U.S. Beats Czech Republic 2-1 To Advance To Semifinals
Americans to Play Russia in World Junior Semifinals Tomorrow

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- Cory Schneider (Marblehead, Mass.) made 30 saves in leading the United States to a 2-1 victory over the Czech Republic in a quarterfinal game of the 2006 International Ice Hockey Federation World Junior Championship tonight before 14,890 at GM Place.

"We beat an excellent hockey team," said U.S. Head Coach Walt Kyle. "Cory was outstanding tonight and we really played gutsy hockey, especially down the stretch. This was a win we needed and I'm really proud of our team."

It was a memorable first period. The teams combined for 29 shots on goal, three goals, a couple of posts and nearly constant end-to-end action. As it wound up, the first period was the only stanza in which goals were scored.

The U.S. wasted little time getting out to a 1-0 lead as Phil Kessel (Madison, Wis.) buried one from the slot on the power play at 3:23. It was Kessel's first goal of the tournament. Jack Johnson (Indianapolis, Ind.) and Jack Skille (Madison, Wis.) drew assists on the play. Chris Bourque (Boston, Mass.) put home a goal-mouth scramble for his seventh of the tournament at 11:08 to give the U.S. a two-goal lead. with Kessel and T.J. Oshie (Warroad, Minn./Everett, Wash.) earning assists. The Czechs made it a 2-1 game at 12:17 thanks to Ladislav Smid's power play marker. Oshie nearly had a goal in the stanza, but his shot from the slot rung off two posts in the first half of the period. Peter Pohl from the Czech Republic also hit a post with 5:00 to go in the stanza.

There was no scoring in the second period, setting up a nerve-wracking third period for American fans.

The Czechs had a clean breakaway just more than 90 seconds into the final period, but Schneider extended  his right leg to foil a golden opportunity by Michal Birner. The U.S. also had some good fortune in the period as Michael Frolik missed an open net with a little more than nine minutes remaining.

The Czech Republic pulled goaltender Marek Schwarz with :39 left, but any hopes to tie the game were dashed on a great play by Oshie as he dove to the ice to and sent the puck out to the neutral zone as time expired.

Team USA played solid in front of Schneider, helping their netminder by unofficially blocking 19 shots in the game.

Team USA will play Russia tomorrow (Jan. 3) at 8:08 p.m. (PST) in semifinal play. The game will be televised live by FOX Sports Net North. Canada plays Finland in the first semifinal at 4:08 p.m. (PST).

NOTES: Chris Bourque scored his seventh goal of the tournament tonight and is just one short of tying the U.S. single-tournament record of eight set by Jeremy Roenick in 1989 ... The Canadian crowd cheered loudly for the Czech Republic throughout the game and has been openly against the U.S. in all games of the tournament .... Cory Schneider has allowed just one even strength goal in the four games he's played in the World Junior Championship ... Phil Kessel leads the tournament in points with 1-9--10.


Scoring By Period
CZE 1-0-0 -- 1
USA  2-0-0 -- 2

First Period - Scoring: 1, USA, Kessel (J. Johnson, Skille), 3:23 (pp); 2, USA, Bourque (Kessel, Oshie), 11:08 (pp); 1, CZE, Smid (Frolik, Sobotka), 12: 17 (pp). Penalties: CZE, Krejci (holding), 2:38; USA, Fritsche (interference), 3:30; CZE, Kudelka (boarding), 6:43; USA, J. Johnson (roughing), 11:44; USA, Gerbe (hooking), 17:21.

Second Period - Scoring: None. Penalties: CZE, Bench (too many players), 0:58; USA, Bourque (hooking), 1:51; USA, Bourque (slashing), 7:12; CZE, Hromas (hooking), 9:58; USA, Lee (high-sticking), 12:31; USA, Bench (too many players), 17:45; CZE, Kindl (hooking), 18:35.

Third Period - Scoring: None. Penalties: USA, Gerbe (hooking), 1:57.

Shots By Period
CZE 16-6-9--31
USA 13-8-10--31

Goaltending (SH-SV)  Total
CZE, Schwarz (59:21)  31-29
USA, Schneider (60:00)  31-30

Power Play:
CZE 1-8, USA 1-6

CZE 5-10, USA 8-16

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