BRATISLAVA, Slovakia (AP) — Former NHL star Jaromir Jagr scored a hat trick Wednesday to lead defending champion Czech Republic to a 4-0 win over the United States in the quarterfinals of the ice hockey world championship.
Also Wednesday, Martin Thornberg had two goals and St. Louis Blues forward Patrik Berglund scored his sixth goal at the worlds and added two assists to help Sweden overcome Germany 5-2 and set up Friday’s semifinal clash with the Czechs.
“That’s a tough opponent, they play very good hockey,” Thornberg said. The Czechs beat Sweden 3-2 in a penalty shootout in the semis at last year’s worlds.
Germany and the U.S. team were eliminated.
Jagr, who plays for Russian team Avangard Omsk in the Kontinental Hockey League, is looking for his third world title and produced a performance reminiscent of his high-scoring days in the NHL.
“He’s still got it, for sure,” U.S. captain Mark Stuart said. “He’s hard to play against. One of the hardest guys ever to take the puck off.”
Jagr, however, said there was still plenty of room for improvement in the semifinals.
“We didn’t play as well as in the previous games, we had a little bit of luck,” Jagr said. “Ondra (Pavelec) was great and had several great saves in the first period. We looked a bit sleepy.”
Pavelec stopped 29 shots for the shutout.
“We knew the first goal was going to be huge,” U.S. captain Mark Stuart said. “We started really well, we had a few chances, I think we hit the post. After they got their second goal we set back little bit and that hurt us.”
The 39-year-old Jagr beat goalie Ty Conklin on a breakaway to put the Czechs ahead 1-0 with 1:15 remaining in the opening period.
The Czechs killed a two-man advantage before Jagr added his second 4:47 into the middle period on a power play with a slap shot from the right circle, with Blake Wheeler and James van Riemsdyk in the penalty box.
Tomas Plekanec scored the third in the final period before setting up another one for Jagr to complete the scoring on a power play with his fifth goal of the tournament.
“We converted our chances at the crucial moments, that was the difference between the teams,” Czech Republic coach Alois Hadamczik said.
Alexander Barta equalized 2:01 into the match for Germany after Thornberg needed just 28 seconds to score for the Swedes. Berglund restored the advantage with 4:14 remaining in the period. Niklas Persson and Loui Eriksson scored each to make it 4-1 before Michael Wolf pulled one back in the second and Thornberg finished the scoring in the third.
Canada plays Russia and Finland faces Norway on the other two quarterfinals on Thursday.
Copyright Associated Press