SOCHI, Russia – The U.S. men's hockey team has flown across nine time zones to continue a long-standing feud with their neighbor.
The Americans (4-0) moved into the Olympic semifinals for a meeting with Canada (4-0) after downing the Czech Republic 5-2 in the quarterfinals Wednesday.
"We are in a foreign land, and we traveled 5,000 miles to play each other and we share a long border," said U.S. forward David Backes. "But the great thing about this tournament is that in order to win it, you have to beat great competition."
With the win, the Americans are guaranteed to either be in the bronze medal game or the gold medal game. The semifinal against Canada (noon ET) is a rematch of the 2010 gold medal game won by Canada.
"From the start, people have bought into how we were going to play," said U.S. forward James van Riemsdyk. "And when you have that, it's a lot easier to be consistent. "
Van Riemsdyk, Dustin Brown, Backes, Zach Parise and Phil Kessel all scored for the Americans, who have outscored the opposition 20-6 in the tournament.
Coming into the Olympics, the big question about the Americans was whether they would score enough goals. The management team opted to leave off some big scorers, such as Bobby Ryan and Kyle Okposo, in order to fill the roster with tenacious, speedier players.
"We are playing fast," said USA captain Zach Parise. "We are scoring off the rush and on the power play. The way they tried to design this team, because of the (wider) Olympic rink, was to have a lot of speed and that has really been to our advantage."
Defenseman Ryan Suter had three assists against the Czechs, and defensemen Ryan McDonagh and Kevin Shattenkirk also picked up assists.
"Our transition game has been very good, and our D are mobile and moving the puck really well," Parise said.
Suter played three minutes more than any of the other U.S. defenseman, and he could end up playing closer to 30 minutes against Canada.
"He can control games with how well he plays and with the outlet passes he makes," Parise said.
Suter always draws the assignments against top forwards.
"With Ryan, it always seems so effortless because of the way he skates and the plays he makes," Parise said.
The Americans' offense will be tested against the Canadians, who have given up three goals in four games.
The big question is whether the Americans are scoring so much because they haven't faced a good defense and whether Canada is so stingy because it hasn't come across a top offense.
That will be answered on Friday.
"We know we will have our hands full," Parise said.
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