Edmonton, AB - In the tournament's most emotional game to this point, David Musil's Czech Republic bounced the United States with three third-period goals to win 5-2 Friday evening at Rexall Place.
Czech netminder Petr Mrazek was sensational, stopping 52 shots in the win, including a penalty shot by American Josh Archibald with 8:33 on the clock in a 2-2 score; the attempt was turned aside, setting the stage to a dramatic conclusion.
It was Mrazek's second save on a penalty shot in three days, as he turned Canada's Mark Stone aside in his team's 5-0 loss on Wednesday, celebrating with a sliding kick to anger the other side.
"I don't care about the US team if they don't like my celebrations," said the netminder, a fifth-round pick of the Detroit Red Wings in 2010. "The crowd didn't like the Americans today, either. When I did some celebrations, the Canadian crowd stood up.
"I think that was the best game I've ever played."
"He brings a lot of energy, especially with the saves that he made," added Oilers prospect David Musil, who concluded his night with a shot on goal and a team-best +3 rating. "The biggest point for us was the penalty shot that he stopped. That turned the game and we gained energy there."
Petr Holik tallied 59 seconds later to put the adopted hometown club up 3-2, bringing the 14,000-strong into a craze and propelling the Americans into a spiral that resulted in additional Czech pair to seal the win.
But it was the start and middle that mattered most.
The US opened the scoring 5:14 into the game when, with Petr Straka in the box serving a boarding major, JT Miller slid a cross-crease pass to TJ Tynan, making no mistake and slamming the puck into the gaping net behind Mrazek.
The Czechs responded at 12:05 when Tomas Filippi pounced on a loose puck in the Americans' end, cashing on a second-chance when he opened up a charging Jack Campbell to secure the 1-1 goal.
It was a seesaw battle all night long.
"We played a great team game," Musil said. "We stuck with it, didn't try to make plays by ourselves and we played a full 60 minutes; didn't have separated parts, like in our last game against Canada."
An American win would have made tomorrow's New Year's Eve matchup more vital, but the crowd was in the Czechs' corner, boisterous with ongoing and unrelenting support in the upset.
"There was a lot of emotion in that game," Musil explained. "It was awesome having all the fans behind us; hearing them cheer is always exciting, but this was on another level."
Holik added an empty-netter, while Tomas Filippi (2) and Tomas Hertl also cashed in the win.
With today's result, Canada has been awarded with a bye to the semis, as no other team can match the red and white's nine points; Finland and the Czechs can, but the Canadians hold the head-to-head edge.
If Finland beats Denmark in tonight's game at Rexall Place, the Americans would be sent to the relegation round.