Team USA’s dreams of medaling in the World Championships a year after they were in the relegation round are finished and it was a familiar and legendary face that did it.
Jaromir Jagr netted a hat trick for the Czech Republic while Ondrej Pavelec continued his stellar tournament with a 29 save shutout to lead the Czechs past Team USA 4-0 and into the semifinals. Team USA was outclassed by the Czechs in this game as Jagr’s line with Tomas Plekanec as his center proved to be impossible to keep up with. Plekanec added a goal of his own in the third period as well. The USA never really threatened in this game and a mix of dumb penalties and just not being talented enough proved to be the difference. USA goalie Ty Conklin was mostly helpless and unsupported while Jagr continued to show that he’s still got it at age 39. His play in the tournament has led to speculation that Jagr might come back to the NHL next season.
Team USA finishes the tournament in 8th place and while that seems disappointing, the USA finished 13th in last year’s tournament. Of course last year’s tourney came on the heels of the Olympics that saw the United States win the silver medal. The Czechs, meanwhile, are looking to win the gold at Worlds for the second straight year. Last year it culminated with an upset of Russia in the title game. This year the Czechs look like a wrecking crew ready to roll their way through to another title.
It’s a disappointing end for the United States despite their improvement over last year’s finish but with most American players either still playing in the Stanley Cup playoffs or resting after rugged seasons, it’s tough to compete with the other teams who have more players stepping up to represent their country. On the upside for the United States, they were able to get a lot of younger players experience on the international stage. That kind of thing can only help them out in their future NHL careers and potentially for an Olympic spot in the future if need be.
Here are all the Jagr-iffic highlights from today’s game.