Team USA struggles in final qualifying game, loses to Switzerland 5-3

Team USA’s efforts to improve their position for the elimination round of the 2011 IIHF World Championships fell by the wayside today as an energized and intense Team Switzerland came out and stifled the Americans on their way to a 5-3 win in the final game of the qualifying round.

Team USA got some reinforcements today in the form of Flyers forward James van Riemsdyk and he made his presence felt in the game scoring a goal in the third period, but his efforts alone weren’t enough to lead the Americans to victory. University of Wisconsin product and Nashville Predators prospect scored as did Senators forward Ryan Shannon to provide the offense for Team USA, but their issues were in goal today.

Ty Conklin got the start but made just 12 saves in 31 minutes played as he allowed four goals. Al Montoya replaced him and closed the door stopping all 12 shots he saw as it would be just an empty net goal that would provide the rest of the Swiss offense. Switzerland was led by Kevin Lotscher who scored twice, his second of the game providing the difference maker and giving them a 4-2 lead at the time.

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Team USA is now set for the elimination round of the tournament and they’ll have a date with Jaromir Jagr’s Czech Republic team. With host Slovakia out of the tournament, expect that the crowd will be very much pro-Czech as visitors from the neighboring country will pack out the arena.

The Czech Republic locked up the top spot in their group while Team USA finishes fourth in theirs. Getting the chance to face off against Jagr’s team with Ondrej Pavelec in net will provide this very young American team quite the challenge if they want to earn a medal in this year’s tournament. Pavelec has been lights out all tournament going 5-0 with a 1.40 goals against average and a .945 save percentage. The Czechs are teeming over with talent, however, as they’re rolling with Patrik Elias, Martin Havlat, and Tomas Plekanec. The deck is certainly stacked up against Team USA but this tournament is always ripe for surprises.

Here are the highlights from today’s game.

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Getzlaf didn’t love the ‘dead’ atmosphere at Coyotes game

Martin Erat, Ryan Getzlaf
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Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf wasn’t impressed with at least two things last night in Arizona:

1. His team’s performance in a 4-2 loss to the Coyotes.
2. The atmosphere inside Gila River Arena, where the announced attendance was just 11,578.

“It’s hard. When you come into a building … it’s dead,” Getzlaf told the O.C. Register. “Nothing against the fans. It’s hard to fill a big building like this and have the amount of people in it to build your energy. So you have to do it yourself. You have to be ready when you step on the ice. I thought we came out flat.”

Anaheim’s record fell to 8-11-4 with the defeat.

The Coyotes’ average attendance also fell, to 13,144 in eight games.

Jarred Tinordi becomes the latest youngster to be sent to the AHL for ‘conditioning’

Jarred Tinordi, Brendan Gallagher
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Like Frank Corrado (see here), Tomas Jurco (see here), Stanislav Galiev (see here), and Patrik Nemeth (see here) before him, Canadiens defenseman Jarred Tinordi is off to the AHL for a conditioning stint.

Tinordi, 23, has yet to play a single game for the Habs this season; however, because he’s no longer exempt from waivers, the former first-round pick has remained on Montreal’s roster.

It’s an issue that’s received a good deal of attention lately. Some believe the league should do something about it, lest more young players get “stuck” in the NHL.

Tinordi will only be allowed to spend two weeks in St. John’s, as per the rules of his conditioning loan.

Safe to say, if you’re an NHL general manager who thinks Tinordi still has potential, Marc Bergevin would welcome your best offer.

Stars place Lehtonen on IR, call up Campbell and Nemeth

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Kari Lehtonen will miss at least a few games with the upper-body injury he suffered the other night against Ottawa. The Dallas Stars announced today that they’ve placed the 32-year-old goalie on injured reserve, retroactive to Tuesday.

With Lehtonen out, Jack Campbell has been called up from AHL Texas to be Antti Niemi‘s backup. The Stars host Vancouver Friday, with a game at Minnesota Saturday.

Campbell, the 11th overall pick in the 2010 draft, has struggled in the AHL this season, going 3-3-0 with an .873 save percentage.

The Stars have also recalled defenseman Patrik Nemeth after the 23-year-old completed his 14-day conditioning assignment.

Related: Campbell credits ECHL stint for turning his game around

Gleason ends tryout with ‘Canes

Tim Gleason, David Desharnais
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Tim Gleason has likely played his last NHL game. The 32-year-old defenseman has informed the Carolina Hurricanes that he no longer wishes to continue his professional tryout.

“Tim informed us today he wasn’t going to continue to pursue his tryout,” said GM Ron Francis, per the club’s website. “He looked and felt good physically, but didn’t feel up to the grind of the NHL mentally.”

Gleason started last season with Carolina before he was traded to Washington in February.

In his career, he’s played 727 NHL games, plus 32 more in the playoffs.