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Team USA claims fifth place at 2002 IIHF In-Line Hockey World Championships

The USA Hockey InLine National Team defeated Slovakia, 8-6, on July 26 to claim fifth place at the 2002 International Ice Hockey Federation In-Line Hockey World Championships in Nuremberg, Germany. Slovakia led 5-4 halfway though the game but the United States rallied, scoring two tallies in each of the remaining two periods, for the victory.

Team USA, the defending silver medalist, finished 4-2-0 in the 16-team tournament.

Sweden defeated defending champion Finland, 6-5, on a goal 19 seconds into overtime to win the gold medal. Germany defeated the Czech Republic, last yearís bronze medalist, by a 9-6 score to capture third place in this yearís tournament. Slovenia defeated Austria, 8-5, in the seventh-place game.

A trio of California players helped key the Team USA scoring in the fifth-place game. Defenseman Josh Milewski (Costa Mesa) first put the U.S. on the scoreboard early in the first quarter with help from forwards Kyle Amant (Modesto) and Pat Lee (Schaumburg, Ill.). Leading the rest of Team USA's offense were defenseman David Brito (San Diego) with two goals and four assists; captain Boyd Sutton (Solodotna, Alaska), who notched two goals and two assists; and forward Jason Deskins (Warren, Mich.) with a hat trick and three assists.

In his fourth consecutive start of the tournament and fifth overall, Team USA goaltender Jeff Reynaert (Sterling Heights, Mich.) earned his third international victory, turning aside 33 of 39 shots. Reynaert was named the Best Goaltender in the tournament.

Mattias Luukkonen of Sweden and Udo Schmid of Germany earned honors as the tournamentís Best Forwards while Swedenís Niclas Norlander and Finlandís Kimmo Lisko were named the tournamentís Best Defensemen.

Brito led Team USAís sizable California contingent in scoring, ranking among the overall team scoring leaders along with Deskins and defenseman Ernie Hartlieb (Sterling Heights, Mich.).

Team USA concluded preliminary round play undefeated (3-0-0) with an 8-2 victory against Austria (2-1-0) on July 23 in Pfaffenhofen, Germany. The United States opened the tournament with a 19-0 shutout victory against Great Britain on July 21 and skated past New Zealand, 27-2, on July 22. Team USA clinched the top seed in its four-team group heading into the qualification round where teams -- based on their performance in the preliminary round -- were then reseeded to form A-Pool and B-Pool World Championships leading to medal games in both pools.

The United States, competing in Group B of the A-Pool World Championship alongside Germany, the Czech Republic and Austria, dropped its two qualification round games to fall into the fifth place game. Team USA lost 5-3 to the Czech Republic on July 24 and then dropped out of medal contention following a last-minute 5-4 loss to Germany on July 25.

The A-Pool semifinals featured Germany against Sweden and Finland against the Czech Republic. The B-Pool semifinals featured Japan against New Zealand and Great Britain against Hungary to determine matchups for the July 27 medal games.

Hungary defeated Japan, 9-6, in the B-Pool World Championship game while New Zealand seized the bronze medal after defeating Great Britain, 9-7.

Team USA fell 5-4 to Germany -- striving to earn its first-ever medal in an IIHF InLine Hockey championship -- on a goal with 17 seconds remaining in the tournamentís final qualification round matchup. The loss eliminated the United States team from the semifinal round for the first time in the seven-year history of the tournament

Forward Oliver David (Pacific Grove, Calif.) opened the scoring for the U.S. at 4:50 of the first quarter. Germany answered just eight seconds later, but Deskins found the back of the net for a 2-1 lead. Germany again responded, but Hartlieb put his squad ahead, 3-2, to close out scoring for the first quarter. Germany again tied up the game in the second quarter, but Deskins responded in the third to keep the U.S. on top. Germany knotted the score at four goals apiece, then picked up the game-winner late in the last stanza.

Reynaert helped keep Team USA in the game, denying 45 of 50 German shots on net.

The Americans suffered their first tournament loss in the qualification round, 5-3, to the defending bronze medalist Czech Republic. Brito and Deskins registered points on the U.S. squad's first two goals, each with a goal and assist. The U.S. trailed 4-2 after two quarters but Amant added an unassisted goal late in the third quarter to close the gap to 4-3. However, Pavel Beranekís empty-net goal in the fourth quarter sealed the Czech victory.

Reynaert turned in a strong performance in the loss, stopping 29 of 34 shots, including a Czech penalty shot early in the fourth quarter.

In the 8-2 win against Austria, Brito paced the United States by notching two goals, including the eventual game-winner, and adding three assists. Deskins finished the game as the team's second-leading scorer, recording a hat trick plus an assist for four points. Brito and Deskins, plus Hartlieb, combined for seven of Team USAís eight goals.

Reynaert stopped 48 of 50 shots to earn U.S. Player of the Game honors.

The United States continued its strong preliminary round play with 27-2 decision against New Zealand. Hartlieb led the squad in scoring, posting four goals and six assists for 10 points to earn U.S. Player of the Game honors while teammate Lee found the back of the net eight times for a new team-high mark.

Goaltender Jamie Bufalino (Detroit, Mich.) turned in a strong performance for the United States, stopping all but two shots while earning the victory.

Team USA opened tournament play with a 19-0 shutout of Great Britain. The line of Deskins, Brito, Hartlieb and Lee Henson (Anaheim, Calif.) combined for 10 of the Americansí19 goals in the win.

Deskins, who was named Team USA's Player of the Game by the IIHF, led the squad in scoring with four goals and five assists. He was followed closely by linemate Brito, who notched five goals and assisted on two others. U.S. netminders Reynaert and Bufalino shared the shutout.

IIHF notepad

Johan Larsson scored the game winner assisted by Matthias Wraak in Swedenís A-Pool World Championship matchup against Finland. The Swedes trailed the Finns, the two-time defending gold medalists, 5-2 after three quarters.

Hungaryís Krisztian Budai was named Best Goaltender in the B-Pool World Championship while Best Player awards went to .Japanís Yasuhiro Umeuchi and Shinichi Takizawa, Great Britainís Nick Burton and New Zealandís Jon Astrop.

The Dr. Jorge Bastias Memorial Fair Play Cup awards went to Sweden (A-Pool) and Chile (B-Pool).

Some of the tournamentís most lopsided scores included Germanyís 37-1 victory against Belgium and Swedenís 58-0 romp against Chile.

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