SOCHI, Russia — The US men’s hockey team surged into the medal round with a dominating 5-2 victory over the Czech Republic at Shayba Arena Wednesday.
The Americans earned a semifinal date with Canada — a 2-1 victor over Latvia — in what will be a rematch of the 2010 final, which the Canadians won in overtime in Vancouver.
It was the first time the Americans had beaten their blue-helmeted rivals in the Games since the Boys of Winter hammered what was the former Czechoslovakia by a 7-3 count in 1980.
This one began auspiciously when James van Riemsdyk scored on the Americans’ second shot on Czech goalie Ondrej Pavelec after just 1:39. Then, after Ales Hemsky equalized for the Czechs out of a scrum at 4:31, Dustin Brown put the US back ahead on an easy look at the open left side at 14:38.
Then came the killer goal by David Backes with 1.8 seconds left in the period after the Czechs let him pounce on a loose puck and roof a third tally.
The Americans kept their foot on the pedal in the second period, with captain Zach Parise popping in a power-play goal at 9:31.
Backstopped by goalie Jonathan Quick (21 saves) and a stingy defense, the US kept buzzing, and Phil Kessel popped in a fifth goal at 2:01 of the third.