World Cup of Hockey 2016: Team USA Comes Home Empty Handed

Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports /

Team USA ended their time at the 2016 World Cup of Hockey tonight with a stinging 4-3 loss to Team Czech Republic at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto.

Tonight is a bittersweet moment for Team USA and their fans. Despite being eliminated from competition following their painful 4-2 loss to Team Canada on Tuesday night, there is still work to be done at the Air Canada Centre as they prepare to play their final game of the 2016 World Cup of Hockey.

While Team USA really has nothing to gain from tonight’s matchup against Team Czech Republic, at least in terms of the international tournament, what does remain on the line is more important than any trophy they could bring home. The pride of a nation is on the line.

If Team USA comes up with a win, they will be able to come home with their heads held high. Come up with a loss, and they will leave Toronto without a single point to their name.

Tampa Bay Lightning
Tampa Bay Lightning /

Tampa Bay Lightning

Unfortunately, when all was said and done, it would be the latter that would apply. Team Czech Republic would outlast Team USA and bring home a 4-3 loss.

Ironically enough, Team USA started off this game playing some of the best hockey they have played the entire tournament. This begs the question of where this particular team has been over the course of the tournament.

Unfortunately, Team USA’s momentum would be halted momentarily as Minnesota Wild captain Zach Parise would be sent to the penalty box for Tripping Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Andrej Sustr. The good news for Team USA is Team Czech Republic was not able to capitalize on their opportunity with the man advantage.

Just before the halfway point in the period, San Jose Sharks captain Joe Pavelski had an excellent opportunity in front of the Czech net. Unfortunately, Detroit Red Wings goaltender Petr Mrazek was able to make the stop and shut down the Americans.

Under three minutes from the Parise penalty, Team Czech Republic would give Team USA a shot at the Power Play as Petr Mrazek is called for High Sticking; a penalty which was served by Dallas Stars forward Ales Hemsky. Much like the penalty before it, Team USA was unable to capitalize on the opportunity.

As the game reached the 12:00 point in the game, Dustin Byfuglien would level a Czech defender right into Bishop’s net. The delayed penalty opened the door for Arizona Coyotes defenseman Zybnek Michalek to put the puck in the back of the net and give the Czechs the early advantage.

A little over one minute from the previous penalty that opened the door for the Czech lead, Petr Mrazek would pick up yet another penalty for Roughing again Detroit Red Wings forward Justin Abdelkader. Much like the previous Mrazek penalty, the penalty was served by Ales Hemsky.

This time, it would be Team USA who would capitalize on their opportunity. Joe Pavelski would finally be able to capitalize on his opportunity in front of the net, bringing home a Power Play goal for the Americans. This had to sting for Mrazek considering it was his action that caused the penalty in the first place.

In the opening moments of the second period, Lightning goaltender Ben Bishop was forced to seriously bail out the rest of Team USA as someone found it appropriate to pass the puck directly across the crease. Thankfully, Bishop was the one between the pipes and able to make the necessary stop.

Unfortunately, Team USA’s luck wouldn’t hold out for much longer. Team Czech Republic absolutely crashed the net, sending Ben Bishop tumbling to the ground. As Bishop fell to the ice, Toronto Maple Leafs winger Milan Michalek would put the puck in the back of the net, regaining the lead for the Czech Republic.

The good news is, Team USA continued to fight. This resulted in a goal by Justin Abdelkader, with the assistance of Dustin Byfuglien and Ryan Suter, would put the puck in the back of the net and tie things up for Team USA.

Just when you think things are finally looking on the bright side for Team USA, the Czech Republic reminds them they’re just as hungry for a win. In just 39 seconds, Team Czech Republic would sink not one, but two goals to give the Czechs a 4-2 lead over the Americans.

The first of the two Czech goals was driven from the sideline by Tampa Bay Lightning netminder Andrej Sustr. The second goal was brought home by Milan Michalek, who would score his second goal of the night.

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As you can imagine, things weren’t looking up for Team USA as the two teams headed to the locker room for the second intermission. This is another one of those nights we’re glad we aren’t in the locker room. The conversations cannot possibly be pleasant.

When the two teams hit the ice for the third and final period of play, Team USA Head Coach John Tortorella would elect to put New Jersey Devils netminder Cory Schneider between the pipes. If Team USA wanted to head home with a victory under their belt, they would need to make their move…and now.

At 1:51 in the period, Team Czech Republic would head to the Power Play as Zach Parise was sent off for two minutes for Hooking Boston Bruins winger David Pastrnak. Unfortunately for the Czech Republic, it would be Team USA who would take advantage of the situation with a shorthanded goal by New York Rangers captain Ryan McDonagh.

McDonagh’s goal would bring this encounter to a one-goal game; something that can be easily overcome in the remainder of the third period. If Team USA wanted to accomplish their goal, they would have to leave everything out on the ice and make their move soon.

When a mere 2:45 remained on the clock, John Tortorella huddled his team and attempted to come up with a plan to tie things up between these two teams and either force an overtime period or bring home a last second win.

Apparently, the Czech team decided to play right into Team USA’s plan. Arizona Coyotes center Martin Hanzal would be sent to the penalty box for Hooking Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane. This means Team USA would spend the majority of the remaining time on the game clock with the man advantage.

With 1:32 left in the game, Team USA would pull Cory Schneider in order to bring on the extra attacker. As we’ve said many times before, this either pays great dividends or hammers the final nail in the coffin.

While the U.S. didn’t necessary get railroaded by this move, their flurry of offense proved to be too little, too late for Team USA. Team USA will leave the 2016 World Cup of Hockey without a single point. For a team that was supposedly built in order to beat Team Canada, the team couldn’t even muster a single point.

This is incredibly hard to believe; especially since they had players like Patrick Kane, Ryan McDonagh, T.J. Oshie and many more in their arsenal. As the ESPN announcers said, there is a good chance some of these players will never have the opportunity to wear the Red, White, and Blue ever again.

Over the course of the next few weeks, people will be contemplating what went wrong and why they couldn’t manage to put up any real manner of fire in their game. Unfortunately, no matter of contemplation will change the outcome of this series.

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As Team Sweden, Team Europe, Team Canada, and Team Russia make their way to the semifinals, Team Czech Republic, Team USA, and Team Finland will be on their way home. While this is rather disappointing, we would rather take a loss at a competition like this one if it meant our favorite team could make a solid run at the Stanley Cup.