Medal Denied As U.S. Falls To Czechs At WJC

The U.S. dropped the bronze-medal game at the World Junior Championships Tuesday to the Czech Republic, finishing in fourth place in the tournament. The Czechs took the 3-2 win in overtime, foiling two U.S. comeback attempts.

“It was disappointing not to have a better performance, not only tonight, but along the way,” said U.S. head coach Scott Sandelin. “Sometimes this game comes down to bounces. I thought both teams played well, but in the end, they got the last bounce and break, and that’s why they won.”

The Czechs got off to an early advantage, converting on a U.S. penalty when Michael Polak lifted a wrister over the shoulder of Michigan’s Al Montoya. But with the Americans skating on the man-advantage, Montoya’s Michigan teammate Kevin Porter evened the tilt, stickhandling around Czech goaltender Marek Schwarz before burying the puck low to the far side.

Time expired in the opening stanza with the teams tied at one.

The second period opened with the U.S. on the power play, due to an unsportsmanlike conduct call against Rostislav Olesz. The Czechs killed the penalty and regained the lead at 6:03 when Michael Frolik took a backhanded pass and went low to the stick side, for a 2-1 advantage.

North Dakota’s Drew Stafford knotted the score with his third power-play goal of the tournament, taking a cross-ice pass from Patrick O’Sullivan and beating Schwarz in the far corner.

After skating through a scoreless third period, the teams went to overtime. Montoya turned away three Czech shots before Petr Vrana picked up the puck at his own blueline and scored on a breakaway at 2:38 of the extra session.

Russia and Canada faced off in the gold-medal game at 7:05 p.m. CST.