SOCHI, RUSSIA -- On a day filled with some dramatic quarterfinals matchups, the Americans continued to assert themselves as a major contender for the gold medal by cleanly beating the Czech Republic 5-2.
One of the things that has set the Americans apart from some of the other major contenders in this tournament - both current and eliminated - has been their ability to adapt to the big ice and thrive offensively. That's something that almost every forward on this team can be credited with accomplishing as further evidenced by today's game where five different forwards - James van Riemsdyk, Dustin Brown, David Backes, Zach Parise and Phil Kessel - found the back of the net for the United States.
That brings the number of Americans that have scored in this tournament to 12. This also was the third time in four matches that the United States scored at least five goals.
Czech Republic goaltender Ondrej Pavelec faced an uphill battle against the Americans and he wasn't up to the task today, stopping just eight of 12 shots before he was yanked midway through the second period.
His performance throughout this tournament will likely make the Czechs think back to the good old days when Dominik Hasek and Tomas Vokoun made goaltending one of the nation's strengths. Perhaps if they had that caliber of netminding today, things might have gone differently as they otherwise played respectively and got a pair of goals from Ales Hemsky that would have helped make a contest out of this match under better circumstances.
Instead the Czech Republic has lost in the quarterfinals for the second straight Winter Games. Its last link to the 1998 gold-medal winning team, Jaromir Jagr, has likely played in his last Olympic contest.
This Czech team, which made numerous questionable coaching and roster selection decisions, will be left hoping that its young players will be able to take over after the old guard couldn't get the job done in its last hurrah. Meanwhile the Americans, filled with players in their prime, look onward and upwards.
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