US downs Czech Republic, advances vs Canada in hockey semis

Fitzgerald Cecilio – 4E Sports Reporter

Sochi, Russian Federation (4E Sports) – David Backes recorded a goal and an assist while Ryan Suter had three assists as the United States booked a spot in the semifinal of the men’s hockey event of the Sochi Winter Games with a 5-2 win over Czech Republic.

Ryan Kesler had two assists, Dustin Brown, Zach Parise, James van Riemsdyk and Phil Kessel scored for the Americans while Jonathan Quick had 21 saves to improve to 3-0 as the Americans arranged a semifinal date with defending champion Canada.

The Canadians needed a late goal from defenseman Shea Weber to beat Latvia, 2-1, in the other quarterfinal pairing.

The Americans will be playing for a second straight trip to the gold-medal game. They got there in 2010 but lost in overtime to Canada.

The United States hasn’t won Olympic gold since 1980, when coach Herb Brooks and his group of college kids pulled off the miracle in Lake Placid, New York. It has two gold medals in men’s hockey in the past 54 years.

Meanwhile, Finland defeated Russia, 3-1, to book a spot in the semifinal against Sweden, a 5-0 winner over Slovenia.

Despite missing their top four centers, the Finns are guaranteed to play for a medal this weekend while the Russians will start pondering what went wrong.

“Can’t say right now,” Russia captain Pavel Datsyuk said. “It’s really emotional. We need to sit down and think about this one.”

Carl Hagelin scored two goals, Alex Steen, Loui Eriksson and Daniel Sedin added a score apiece while Henrik Lundqvist stopped 19 shots for a shutout and a 4-0 record for Sweden.

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