The Czech Republic defeated USA 4-0 to knock the American men from the 2011 World Championship in Slovakia. The U.S. team played a very inspired first period, but ended up on the short end of the stick off of a Czech goal scored by Jaromir Jagr. Three minutes in the Czech’s caught a big break, when a U.S. shot bounced off of a skate and past Ondrej Pavelec, but found the post instead of the back of the net. American forward, Craig Smith, was also robbed by Pavelec on a glorious chance on the power play, that could have been a 1-0 US lead as well.
The second period was played closely between the two teams as well. The Czech’s outshot the U.S. 13 to 11 in the period, but the only puck to find the back of the net came from the one and only Jagr on the power play to put the Czechs up 2-0. That seemed to be a pretty big blow to the U.S., especially the way Czech goaltender Ondrej Pavelec has been playing in this tournament.
The Czech’s took control of the third period and the American men had a difficult time generating scoring chances. Jack Johnson absolutely leveled Patrik Elias behind the U.S. net in the third period and the hit was so hard I think Elias’ stick ended up in the upper deck of the arena (I’m serious). Elias remained down on the ice for a couple of minutes, but he was able to skate of the ice on his own accord. The Czech’s scored two more goals to ice the game, the last one gave the 39 year-old Jagr a hat trick. U.S. goaltender, Ty Conklin made 35 saves on 39 shots, the first goal of the game was a little weak, but Conklin had to make a number of difficult saves throughout the game to give USA a chance.
Derek Stepan (NY Rangers) finished with 7 points in 7 games leading all U.S. players in points. USA finished 8th in the tournament this year, 5 spots better than the previous. Though it is a marked improvement over last year, it’s still below what I would expect of the country that supplies the second highest number of players in the NHL, only behind Canada. I hope some of the bigger named U.S. players decide to represent their country next year at the tournament.