SOCHI, RUSSIA — Former Minnesota State men's hockey standout David Backes scored a goal and an assist on Wednesday, helping the USA to a 5-2 victory over the Czech Republic and a spot in the Olympic semifinals for the second straight time.
The U.S. will play Canada on Friday for a spot in the gold-medal game. The Canadians beat Latvia 2-1.
Backes assisted on a goal by Dustin Brown early in the first period and then found the net himself at 19:58 of the opening frame. USA led 3-1 after one session.
The Minnesota Wild's Zach Parise piled on, pushing the Americans' lead to 4-1 midway through the second period to chase goalie Ondrej Pavelec after he made just eight saves. He was replaced by Alexander Salak.
The U.S. has been tested only once in a 3-2, eight-round shootout against the host Russians in the preliminary round. The Americans have crushed the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Slovenia by a combined score of 17-4.
While the Czechs had to play for a second straight day because they had to beat Slovakia in the qualification round just to reach the quarterfinals, the rested Americans were ready to roll after having two days off.
The U.S. seemed to take advantage of having fresh legs, beating the Czech Republic to loose pucks all night long.
More details to come later.