Eye on Sochi: Team USA advances to semifinals, will face Canada

Betsy Helfand

The U.S. men’s hockey team advanced to the Olympic semifinals after beating the Czech Republic 5-2 on Wednesday.

Former Gophers forward Phil Kessel scored the team’s final goal early in the third period.

Before the former Gophers men’s hockey player scored, Team USA had already jumped out to a commanding 4-1 lead.

The Czechs scored a late goal to make it 5-2, but that goal had no impact on the end result.  

The Americans will play Canada on Friday at 11 a.m.

This will be a rematch of the 2010 gold-medal game. Canada won that game in overtime.

The Canadians beat Latvia 2-1 on Wednesday after a valiant effort from the Latvians.

Latvian goaltender Kristers Gudlevskis made 55 saves in the game.

The two teams were tied until 53:06 in, when Canadian defenseman Shea Weber rifled a power-play goal past Gudlevskis.

Finland and Sweden are the other two remaining teams, and they will play early Friday.

US women’s hockey

The U.S. women’s team will also take on Canada — but the stakes will be a little higher.

Team USA will battle for the gold medal Thursday at 11 a.m.

The two teams have won every gold medal since women’s hockey was introduced to Olympic competition in 1998.