U.S. goes win­less at World Cup of Hockey

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - SPORTS - By Stephen Whynoa

The United States wrapped up a dis­ap­point­ing, win­less per­for­mance at the World Cup of Hockey with a 4-3 loss to the Czech Repub­lic on Thursday night.

Pre­vi­ous losses to Team Europe and Canada elim­i­nated the U.S. from con­tention, and its roundrobin fi­nale had no mean­ing for ei­ther team. With an 0-3-0 record and a mi­nus-6 goal dif­fer­en­tial, the U.S. fin­ished sev­enth among eight teams, ahead of only Fin­land.

Joe Pavel­ski, Justin Ab­delka­der and Ryan McDon­agh scored for the U.S., which did not un­ravel in a mean­ing­less game like it did in the 2014 Olympic bronze medal game. Ben Bishop al­lowed four goals on 20 shots in two pe­ri­ods, and Cory Schenider made seven saves in re­lief.

Petr Mrazek stopped 36 of the 39 shots he faced to back­stop the Czech Repub­lic to its first vic­tory. Mi­lan Michalek scored twice and Zbynek Michalek and An­drej Sustr each had a goal.

U.S. play­ers promised they wouldn’t mail it in with noth­ing to play for. A re­sult of hu­man na­ture, it felt like an all-star game with a lack of real phys­i­cal­ity as ev­ery­one wanted to get through with­out get­ting in­jured.

Frus­tra­tion boiled over for Dustin Byfuglien at the fi­nal buzzer as he went af­ter Czech de­fense­man Michal Jor­dan.

A col­lec­tion of fans spent stretches of the first pe­riod chant­ing, “Let’s go Kes­sel!” and “We want Kes­sel!” Stan­ley Cup-win­ning Pitts­burgh Pen­guins winger Phil Kes­sel was left off the U.S. team and made light of that on Twit­ter on Tues­day night af­ter the Amer­i­cans lost to Canada.

That was a must-win game for the U.S. af­ter open­ing the tour­na­ment with what Pa­trick Kane called a “dud” against Europe. Gen­eral man­ager Dean Lom­bardi blamed not be­ing pre­pared for that game for the U.S. bow­ing out of the World Cup.

“I don’t think we showed enough re­spect for the tal­ent on that team,” Lom­bardi said Thursday morn­ing.

Lom­bardi said that the 3-0 loss to Europe put the U.S. be­hind the “prover­bial 8-ball” that felt like a boul­der. The Los An­ge­les Kings GM has seen his team come back from a 3-0 play­off deficit but de­scribed the locker room af­ter los­ing to Europe as tight, and the U.S. was never able to ad­e­quately re­spond.

Get­ting al­most skated out of the rink by Canada wasn’t en­tirely un­ex­pected, but play­ers ac­knowl­edged their recipe to move on was to beat Europe and the Czech Repub­lic. They didn’t do ei­ther, and USA Hockey faces plenty of ques­tions about how it will bounce back for the 2018 Olympics.

That’s if NHL play­ers even par­tic­i­pate, or the U.S. might have to wait un­til the next World Cup, which will make it a long four years.

MARK BLINCH — THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Team USA’s Dustin Byfuglien, cen­ter, Matt Niska­nen, left, and Pa­trick Kane, right, leave the ice af­ter Thursday’s 4-3 loss to Team Czech Repub­lic in the World Cup of Hockey on Thursday.

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