U.S. falls to Slovakia at world championships
HELSINKI (AP) -- Slovakia defeated the United States 4-1 at the ice hockey world championship on Tuesday.
The U.S. had a chance to clinch the group, but finished third and will meet Russia in the quarterfinals on Thursday.
Slovakia's Branko Radivojevic scored 15 seconds into the game when U.S. goaltender Ben Bishop turned the puck over, trying to reach a teammate with a pass.
Martin Bartek made it 2-0 with a goal at 3:44 of the first and Rene Vydareny made it 3-0. Danny Kristo scored for the U.S. in the second period, and Marko Dano added a late empty-net goal.
The U.S. had 23 goals in six games before Tuesday.
"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.''
On the first goal, Bishop went behind the net to pick up the puck and pass it to a teammate. He hit the stick of Slovakia forward Tomas Kopecky and the puck went to 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.''
Switzerland won its group, followed by Canada, Sweden and the Czech Republic.
Tomas Fleischmann scored twice and the Czech Republic routed Norway 7-0.
In Stockholm, Switzerland defeated Belarus 4-1 for its best group record at the worlds. The Swiss hope to win a medal for the first time since 1953, when they were third among three teams.
Finland will take on Slovakia after winning its group on Antti Pihlstrom's overtime goal that gave it a 3-2 win against Latvia.
Also, Christian Ehrhoff scored two goals, including the overtime winner, as Germany beat France 3-2.