SOCHI, Russia -- The U.S. men’s hockey team will face the Czech Republic on Wednesday in the quarterfinals of the Sochi Olympics hockey tournament.
The U.S., seeded No. 2, earned a bye into the quarterfinals by winning its preliminary-round group. The Czechs, seeded No. 7, had to play a qualification playoff game on Tuesday and held off late-charging Slovakia, 5-3, at Shayba Arena.
The U.S.-Czech Republic game is scheduled for 9 a.m. PST at Shayba Arena.
The Czechs got first-period goals from Ales Hemsky of the Edmonton Oilers, Roman Cervenka, and a one-timer from David Krejci of the Boston Bruins. Cervenka extended the lead to 4-0 in the second period after forcing a turnover.Marian Hossa got one back for Slovakia at 18:57 of the second period with a shot from the inner edge of the left circle, and scored again when he beat goaltender Ondrej Pavelec of the Winnipeg Jets on a rebound at 7:20 of the third period. Tomas Surovy brought Slovakia within one at 8:58 but the Czechs held on and got an empty-net goal to clinch the victory.
The Czechs’ roster includes two of the oldest players in the tournament: 42-year-old Peter Nedved, who made his Olympic debut in 1994 and went 20 years before returning to the Games, and 42-year-old Jaromir Jagr, part of the gold-medal-winning Czech team in 1998. Jagr, now with the New Jersey Devils, is a five-time NHL scoring champion.
Slovakia, which has considerable offensive talent and is led defensively by towering defenseman Zdeno Chara, finished the Olympic tournament with no wins in four games.
In preliminary-round games, the Czech Republic lost to Sweden and Switzerland in addition to defeating Latvia.