U.S. beats Slovakia for first win in Cup

Saturday, September 4th 2004, 11:16 am
By: News On 6

Team USA finally showed some energy Friday in the World Cup of Hockey, beating Slovakia 3-1 in St. Paul, Minn., for its first win.

Bill Guerin, Jason Blake and Bryan Smolinski scored for the younger, quicker, U.S. team, which moved into third place in the North American Division. Slovakia dropped to fourth at 0-2.

After being outworked against Canada and Russia, U.S. coach Ron Wilson benched NHL star Brett Hull along with three other regulars. The Americans responded with their best offensive output of the tournament, outshooting Slovakia 39-17.

The U.S. team had 24 shots against Canada and 21 against Russia.

Wilson started goaltender Rick DiPietro to save Robert Esche from playing three games in four nights. Esche stopped 72 shots against Canada and Russia. DiPietro didn't face nearly the same intensity against Slovakia, finishing with 16 saves.

The Czech Republic scored three goals in three minutes during the second period and routed Germany 7-2 in Prague, Czech Republic.

Marek Zidlicky of the Nashville Predators scored on a power play 2:56 into the second period with a slap shot. Jiri Slegr of the Boston Bruins added the second goal moments later and Jaromir Jagr scored the third from close range at 5:52 into the second period.