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Jagr's Trick Sinks Americans

by Staff Writer / Florida Panthers

BRATISLAVA – Jaromir Jagr is still the king. The 39-year-old legend scored three times on Wednesday to lead the Czech Republic to a 4-0 triumph over the USA and a berth in Friday’s first semi-final against the winner of Sweden-Germany.

Having won seven straight at Orange Arena, the Czechs are now just two victories away from repeating as champions for the first time since 2000. Airtight defence and opportunistic scoring have been the keys, always a good sign for this side.

"We have great goaltending and managed to score goals," said Czech forward Jakub Voracek. "If you get four goals, you should be able to win."

The young Americans (averaging 24.4 years of age), who had just two 2010 Olympic returnees in defencemen Jack Johnson and Mike Komisarek, couldn’t overcome the skill and experience of their opponents.

"We had a young team and the future of USA Hockey looks great," said Komisarek. "We fell short, but the experience of playing in the quarterfinal against such a good team was good."

Jagr's linemate, Tomas Plekanec, added a goal and two helpers for the Czechs. Goalie Ondrej Pavelec registered his second tournament shutout, outdoing the USA’s Ty Conklin as shots favoured the Czech Republic 39-29.

Michael Frolik replaced the injured Martin Havlat (shoulder) on the most effective Czech line in the tournament overall, playing alongside Patrik Elias and Milan Michalek. To fill Havlat’s roster spot, the Czechs added Petr Vampola from the KHL’s Avangard Omsk.

Jagr, an IIHF Triple Gold Club member since 2005, is gunning for his third World Championship title to go with his 1998 Olympic gold medal and Stanley Cup rings from 1991 and 1992 with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Forward Jack Skille finished with four shots in 9:45 of ice time (14 shifts) while defenseman Clay Wilson had just 2:35 of ice time (three shifts).

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