Slovakia, Czechs into quarters at hockey worlds
HELSINKI (AP) - Slovakia defeated the United States 4-1 and the Czech Republic routed Norway 7-0 in group finales for both teams to reach the quarterfinals at the ice hockey world championship on Tuesday.
The U.S. had a chance to win the group, but will finish second or third and meet Russia or Finland in a quarterfinal on Thursday.
In Stockholm, the other group leader, Switzerland, defeated Belarus 4-1 to achieve its best group record at the worlds, seven wins and no losses. The Swiss hope to win a medal for the first time since 1953, when they were third among three teams.
Julian Walker scored twice, and Roman Josi and Mathias Bieber once each.
Switzerland won its group, followed by Canada, Sweden and the Czechs.
Slovakia's Branko Radivojevic was handed a free score after only 15 seconds when U.S. goaltender Ben Bishop turned the puck over, trying to reach a teammate with a pass.
Martin Bartek, 3:44 in, and Rene Vydareny made it 3-0 for last year's runner-up with Rastislav Stana making only 20 saves. Danny Kristo replied for the U.S. in the second period, and Marko Dano added a late empty-net goal.
"We were hopeful and excited about the opportunity to try to finish first. We were not able to do that but we will be ready for the next opponent,'' U.S. coach Joe Sacco said. "The first two goals were unfortunate, it's tough to play catch-up. Slovakia made a good job of bottling up the middle of the ice and they protected the front of the net very well. We had a hard time getting there, and when we did, their goalie came up big.''
The first goal was strange. Bishop went behind the net to pick up the puck and play it to a teammate. He hit the stick of Slovakia forward Tomas Kopecky and the puck went to Branko Radivojevic, who was left with an open net.
"The first one bounced right out in the slot from behind the net. The second one I got to but it just squeaked through,'' Bishop said. "Just unlucky goals. Otherwise I think we played a good game, but the other goalie played well. We could have scored five easily. It's a shame we didn't win.''
For the Czechs, Tomas Fleischmann showed the way with goals in the second and eight minutes.
In a game without great significance, Christian Ehrhoff's second goal was an overtime winner as Germany beat France 3-2. Both teams' quarterfinal hopes were dashed by Slovakia's earlier victory.
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