U.S. Men's National Team Captures Bronze Medal At IIHF World Championship
Andy Roach Nets Game Winner For Team USA's First Medal Since 1996
|Forward Andy Roach scores on Slovakia goalie Jan Lasak to secure the bronze medal for Team USA and head coach Peter Laviolette.|
U.S. goaltender Ty Conklin (Anchorage, Alaska/Edmonton Oilers) earned the shutout victory by stopping all 25 shots he faced leading up to the shootout. In addition to qualifying for the 2006 Olympic Winter Games in Torino, Italy, the U.S. finishes the 2004 IIHF Men's World Championship with a 5-3-1 overall record and its first podium performance in the event since 1996.
The game marked the third appearance in the last nine years by Team USA in a Medal-Round Game of the IIHF Men's World Championship -- all for the bronze medal. In 1996 the U.S. captured the bronze in Austria, and in 2001 the U.S. finished fourth in Germany.
"It was amazing how hard we skated and how relentless our players were in pursuit of a medal. We had a great team all tournament long, and that's exactly what we needed -- a team -- because we couldn't rely on just one or two guys," said U.S. head coach Peter Laviolette (Franklin, Mass./Carolina Hurricanes). "Once the shootout began I essentially stopped being a coach and became a spectator like everyone else to watch a tremendous finish. Looking back to our win against Russia when we advanced to the Quarterfinal Round, our team knew just how important this tournament was for USA Hockey."
In the shootout, Roach was the third American in line and he converted on a backhander that went high through the blocker side of Slovak goaltender Jan Lasak. Forwards Chris Drury (Trumbull, Conn./Buffalo Sabres), Matt Cullen (Virginia, Minn./Florida Panthers) and Erik Westrum (Minneapolis, Minn./Phoenix Coyotes) also tallied for the U.S. against Lasak.
Conklin only allowed goals to Miroslav Satan and Marian Hossa to collect his fourth win of the tournament and finish undefeated with a 4-0-1 record and a 2.14 goals-against average. Conklin was in net when the U.S. and Slovakia played to a 3-3 tie on April 26 when the teams met in the Preliminary Round.
Roach was the only player to convert his shootout attempt in Wednesday's 3-2 Quarterfinal Round victory over the Czech Republic. The Michigan native has spent the past five seasons in the German Elite League and has never played in the National Hockey League. Laviolette selected Roach to the roster, which consists of nearly all NHLers, after the two were part of the U.S. team that finished first in last November's Deutschland Cup.