ST. PETERSBURG, Russia (AP) â€” The United States' unbeaten string at the World Hockey Championships ended today when unheralded Slovakia beat the Americans 4-1.
Michal Hreus scored the tie-breaking goal as the Slovakians defeated the United States for the first time at the championships. It also was the first time Slovakia reached the semifinals.
``It's our best year ever,'' New York Islanders defenseman Zdeno Chara said. ``There is great excitement in the locker room.''
In the semis, Slovakia will meet Finland.
Luha Lind of the Montreal Canadiens scored the game-winner as Finland defeated Sweden 2-1.
The Americans were 4-0-2 before their loss to Slovakia.
They had been steadily making headway throughout the tournament with disciplined, organized play, beating hockey powers Russia and Sweden.
It appeared their streak would continue as they took a 1-0 lead in the opening period, when Darby Hendrickson of the Vancouver Canucks knocked in a rebound at 3:55.
But the game turned quickly in the second, when Damian Rhodes of the Atlanta Thrashers allowed three goals in less than four minutes.
Miroslav Satan of the Buffalo Sabres evened the score with his eighth goal of the tournament, only 23 seconds into the period.
Hreus put the Slovakians ahead at 2:16, slamming in Jan Pardavy's rebound. Vlastimil Plavucha made it 3-1, scoring from the left faceoff circle less than two minutes later.
The final goal came at 9:04 of the third period during a power play, when Lubos Bartecko picked up a pass from Satan, and flicked the puck over Rhodes' extended left leg.