PARDUBICE – Team USA are the 2014 IIHF Inline Hockey World Championship bronze medallists, taking out a listless Swedish team 12-5 to earn its 14th inline medal, tops in tournament history.
USA – Sweden 12-5 (3-2, 3-2, 2-1, 4-0)
Penalties buried the Swedes’ chances at a comeback after coming out of intermission down 6-4.
Rafael Rodriguez scored his second goal of the game early in the third period to give the U.S. a 7-4 lead over the Swedes. Sweden scored a few minutes later off a rush by Filip Gunnarsson, but on a power play the Americans extended the lead back up to three goals with a power play score from Matt White, his tournament-leading 11th goal. Then Patrick Lee deflected the puck into the net to put Team USA in control 9-5.
Tyler Spezia, John Siemer, and Patrick Lee rounded out the scoring as the United States collected the bronze, its 14th medal earned in the 17-year history of the tournament.
The Americans scored first a minute and a half into the game, as tournament leading scorer Matt White got his tenth of the tournament. Then Travis Noe added another five minutes later, picking up a loose puck in front of the Swedish net and shooting it five-hole for the 2-0 lead.
"It felt good, anytime you can medal in a tournament like this is good," said Noe. "The IIHF is a prestigious tournament and we're happy to be here so it feels good to get a medal."
"Obviously we'd like to be in the gold medal game tonight, the feeling of wearing that gold medal we experienced last year, there's nothing like it, but anytime you wear Team USA across your chest, when you can medal in a tournament it's a proud feeling."
Noe’s goal woke up the Swedes, who responded with a score by Mikael Eriksson breaking into the American net and slotting it home. Then Carl Berglund made a great individual play, gaining possession of the puck in the USA zone then with his back to the net twirling around to shed the defender and beat goaltender Jerry Kuhn III with a deke to tie the game up 2-2.
Team USA went back up by a goal late in the first period when Travis Noe set up captain Greg Thompson on a two-on-one with Team USA playing short-handed. Kruse appeared to have made the stop but the puck trickled through and crossed the line.
Sweden came back again in the second period, when on the power play Marcus Nilsson made a cross-ice pass to Robin Sjoren sitting alone in the middle of the right circle waiting to fire a slapshot into the back of the USA net. Then Berglund scored his second of the game, stealing the puck off the USA defence and beating Kuhn III with a low shot to give Sweden the 4-3 lead.
But Noe, who scored a hat trick in the final last year to win the gold medal against Sweden, scored his second of the game, and Rafael Rodriguez and Patrick Lee added two more to give the Americans a 6-4 lead, prompting Sweden head coach Bjorn Ostlund to pull goaltender Emil Kruse in favour of Anders Ollikainen.
The win gives Team USA a remarkable 14 medals in 17 inline tournaments.
"Around the world I think the roller hockey community has understood what we've done and what we've accomplished," said head coach Joe Cook. "I started in this in 1996, and was involved in the first four years and took a ten-year break and came back to coach the last three. The countries are preparing better and better for it every year, countries like Sweden and Finland and Canada are always good, but even the Slovenes two years ago were fantastic and the Germans this year were good, they came into this year with a lot of new faces and worked their tails off and got a lot of respect from us for that."
Slovakia – Great Britain 2-1 (0-1, 1-0, 0-0, 1-0)
Great Britain will head back to Division I, dropping a heartbreaker to Slovakia, 2-1. Filip Novak scored his second goal of the game with 28 seconds left in the final period, keeping his team in the Top Division for next year and dropping the Brits to relegation.
Great Britain kicked the game off on a right note, getting on the board first with a goal from Rob Shelton. It was the first time that the team scored the opening goal of a game since its opener against the United States.
Slovakia tied things up near the end of the period when Filip Novak got a pass from Tomas Jasko and blew past the British defence before firing the puck past British goalie Alex Birch.
Britain played a patient, defensive game against the Slovaks, who after Novak’s goal were unable to get another score until when on a two-on-two rush got the puck to an open, who had just enough space to wire the puck underneath a diving British player for what would be the game-winner.