Chris Mason, 98.5 The SportsHub

0:00: Final Score: 5-2 USA. The Americans walk away with this one. It was a convincing win for a team that seemed determined to play from goal line to goal line today. They advance to the Semifinals where they’ll meet Team Canada on Friday, who narrowly escaped with a 2-1 win over Latvia this afternoon. The Americans were impressive in their victory, and will look to build upon their solid two-way play in their biggest challenge yet.

3:54: The fat lady is warming up her vocal chords for this one. Across the complex the Canadians have finally put one through to make it 2-1. Shea Weber scored on the Canadians’ 54th shot of the game.

7:00: One of those shots finally gets through to bring it to 5-2. Ales Hemsky rips a shot from the slot and beats Quick over the shoulder. There may have been a partial screen from John Carlson trying to block the shot. The goal was scored on a 2-on-2 rush that was a result of a Paul Stastny turnover on his offensive blueline.

7:15: The Czechs have a lot of offensive zone time, but cannot get anything through to Quick. Team USA defensemen are doing a superb job blocking shots, even up 4 goals late in the third period.

11:13: The Czechs kill the American man-advantage. Salak has proven to be far sharper than Pavelec in this one. Oshie takes a low Czech hip-check but pops right back up.

13:13: Zidlicky takes a penalty for slashing, and the USA go back to the powerplay. Time for a little scoreboard watching. Canada and Latvia are still tied 1-1 in the third despite Canada outshooting the Latvians 44-12. The USA will face the winner of that contest if they can hang on here.

14:30: Team USA is putting on a clinic right now. Their cycling game in the offensive zone is excellent, and the Czech Republic cannot get anything going. The Americans’ quickness is taking the game over at this point, the Czechs look worn down.

17:59: Kessel notches his first goal of the game to make it 5-1. Kessel crashes the net and receives a perfect pass from Kesler to knock it in from the goal mouth. Speed of USA is apparent as the two went streaking through the neutral zone. A nice outlet pass from Shattenkirk started the breakout. It’ll be Kessel’s goal from Kesler and Shattenkirk.

Third Period 20:00: The puck is dropped and we’re back underway for the third. Hanzel starts this time for the Czechs against Backes. First shift produces a scrum in front of the net, but 4 Americans in the crease make sure that it doesn’t cross the goal line. Still 4-1.

Second Intermission Trivia Fact: David Backes is trying to save puppies. That’s right, just when you thought this American couldn’t get any better, you find out that he’s creating a program to try to save the stray dogs on the verge of execution in Sochi. What a guy.

o:oo: Orpik hits a Czech at the buzzer at center ice, seemingly emblematic as to how the Americans have played this game. They’re earning their reputation as the grittiest team in the tournament in this game, and from top to bottom their blue collar game is paying dividends. They take a 4-1 lead into the locker room, and Bylsma’s coaching is again to be heralded given his strong match-up decisions from the bench in the second frame.

2:30: Ryan Kesler drops his stick in obvious pain. He blocked a shot in the game against Russia and is clearly still injured.  TV Analysts on NBC note that he can barely grip his stick, but has a strong pain threshold. Goes a long way in showing how badly the Americans want to win this tournament.

3:29: T.J.Oshie proving to be a major asset in all phases for the Americans. Clears the puck on the Penalty Kill and draws a tripping call on Jakub Voracek in the process. Teams will be 4-on-4 here.

4:28: Brooks Orpik destroys Jaromir Jagr but is whistled for interference. Appears to be the right call. Czechs to the powerplay.

5:44: The game remains 4-1, as the teams have traded possessions but neither have had any particularly dangerous scoring chances. This is in large part due to the solid play from the American defensive corps. They’re playing excellent team defense right now. Cam Fowler is showing why he was selected to the play on the team. Maybe  his best game for Team USA thus far.

10:24: A glass malfunction has delayed the game, going on five minutes right now. Both teams’ skaters trying to stay loose on the bench. Canada-Latvia tied 1-1 in the second period of the other quarterfinal game right now.

10:29: Zach Parise scores another bad angle goal on Pavelec on the powerplay to give the Americans the 4-1 lead. Pavelski and Suter look to get the assists. Pavelski unleashed a bomb from the point that went wide and ricocheted to Parise’s stick near the goal line. Awesome screen in front from, guess who? David Backes. Pavelec is chased. Alexander Salak in net for the Czechs.

11:32: Things are getting chippier here, the bodies are flying around. Oshie, Orpik, and Backes all lay heavy, legal hits for the Americans. Finally the games first penalty is whistled on Zbynek Michalek for interference. Kesler draws the call. USA going to the powerplay.

14:24: Over five minutes before a stoppage and the teams are trading chances. Backes still looks like the best player on the ice. Fowler boarded hard by Elias, no call. Seems like the trend of these games being poorly officiated is continuing. Callahan also had a great chance but was stopped by Pavelec.

20:00 Second Period: The teams are back and we’re underway. Jagr starts for the Czechs, and you guessed it, Backes for the Americans. Great chess match going on. If there’s any period for the Czechs to take advantage of it, it’ll be the 2nd with the long change between the benches.

First Intermission Trivia Fact: The last time the USA beat the Czech Republic came in group play in 1980 in Lake Placid. Anyone remember how that Olympic Tournament finished?

00:00: As the Americans head into the locker room with a 2 goal advantage, Dan Bylsma deserves a lot of credit. The USA gets last change as the higher seed and “home team,” and the American coach has taken full advantage of that. It seems like every time Jagr, the Czech’s most critical player, steps on the ice he has David Backes shadowing his every move. The harrassment of Jagr has already led to a turnover and an American goal. Backes is playing like a man-possessed. Bylsma’s entire bench was also yelling for Suter to throw the puck near the goal with time winding down in the first period, and the result was a buzzer-beating goal.

00:01.8: David Backes makes it 3-1 America with less than 2 seconds to play in the first. Huge goal for the USA. Ryan Suter threw the puck intentionally wide, and it bounced right onto the stick of Backes to the left of Pavelec. Suter and McDonagh get the assists on the goal.

2:53: Pavelec robs Dustin Brown, flashing the leather with the puck and Callahan both barreling at him. Best save of the game thus far for the Czech goalie.

5:22: Dustin Brown gives the Americans a 2-1 lead after a phenomenal shift from David Backes. Backes steals the puck from Jagr in the neutral zone, brings it into the offensive zone and rips a shot. Brown gets the rebound for a semi-open net goal in the goalmouth. Give Brown the goal, and Backes the assist.

7:17: The USA has countered the Czech play with some offense of their own, but nothing to show for it. Cam Fowler rings the post, and then JVR is robbed off of a pretty feed from Kessel, their chemistry is obvious. Shots are tied 5-5.

10:22: The game is still tied 1-1  about halfway through the first, but the Czechs have been absolutely bringing the pressure ever since the first American goal. The shots are only 3-2 Czechs, but aren’t indicative of how the play has been. The Czech goal was credited to Ales Hemsky from Marek Zidlicky, and Ryan Kesler was awarded an assist of JVR’s tally.

15:29: The Czechs tie it 1-1 after a logjam in front of the Team USA net. It appears Ryan McDonagh put it off of Ryan Suter’s stick on the clearing attempt at the top of the crease and the puck ricocheted over Jonathan Quick. Unsure who the sloppy goal will be credited to at this point.

18:21: James van Reimsdyk beats the Czech netminder from a terrible angle to give the Americans a 1-0 lead early on. Pavelec looks visibly shaken after JVR scores from the goal-line. America is flying around early on.

20:00 First Period: The teams are ready and the puck is about to be dropped in Sochi. The Americans are wearing their their white uniforms with blue shoulders, and the Czech uniforms are equal parts Red, White and Blue. The USA opens the game with their line of Brown, Backes, and Callahan. We’re underway from Shayba Arena!

11:30 a.m.: Team USA was one of the more impressive teams in the Olympics in their sweep of the preliminary round, but have a tough quarterfinal matchup with the Czech Republic set for this afternoon in Sochi. Now it’s time for them to show what they’re made of, as the quarterfinals are when the tournament turns to single elimination.

The Czechs are solid on offense, but have plenty of question marks in net with Ondrej Pavelec, who has allowed six goals in three games played and appeared shaky at times. It remains to be seen how the Czech defensive core and Pavelec can counter the highly-balanced American offensive attack. American forward Phil Kessel will be looking to build off of his hat-trick on Sunday against Slovenia, and Jonathan Quick will get the start in goal for the Red, White, and Blue.

Another interesting match-up will be Team USA’s head coach Dan Bylsma and Czech forward Jaromir Jagr. The Czech forward has been a thorn in Bylsma’s side, as the coach is only 6-15 in his last 21 games against teams the ex-Penguin has suited up for. While hockey is obviously a team game, this seemed like an interesting tidbit for a coach with a team as dominant as Pittsburgh’s.

Here are team USA’s starting pairings, from TEAM USA Twitter account:

Chris Mason is an Intern for 98.5 The SportsHub

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