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Czechs edge United States to advance at worlds

by Staff Writer / New Jersey Devils

Jaromir Jagr and the Czech Republic are headed to the semifinals at the IIHF World Championship in Belarus. 

The Czechs survived a late U.S. rally and held on for a 4-3 win in Thursday’s quarterfinal. They now prepare for a Saturday meeting with Finland, which upset Group A top seed Canada, 3-2.

Special teams proved pivotal for the Czechs in the second period when they erupted for three power-play goals. Tomas Hertl and Roman Cervenka each converted after Team USA captain Justin Abdelkader was assessed a five-minute major and game misconduct for charging Vladimir Sobotka.

Jagr set up the third tally of the period – Ondrej Nemec’s eventual game-winner – at 16:19 with Brock Nelson in the box for cross-checking. The assist extended his point streak to six games (3g-4a) and kept him atop the Czech scoring list with eight points (4g-4a) in eight contests.

The U.S. battled back late in the third. With Tim Thomas pulled for an extra attacker, Tyler Johnson scored twice in 13 seconds to get Team USA within a goal with under a minute to go. The Czechs held on for the final 57 seconds to advance.

Nelson opened the scoring on the power play, giving the U.S. a 1-0 lead at 6:54 of the first period. Tomas Rolinek answered with an unassisted marker that tied the game, 1-1, at 9:25.

Russia and Sweden will faceoff in Saturday's other semfinal. The Russians blanked France, 3-0, while Sweden edged Belarus, 3-2. Albany (AHL) defenseman Raman Hrabarenka registered one shot in the game for the tournament hosts, and was plus-6 with two assists in eight games.

Team Canada, whose coaching staff included assistant Peter DeBoer, exited in the quarterfinals for a fifth straight year. The Canadians last medaled at the worlds in 2009, when they claimed silver. 

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