After the wonderful ride to the silver medal in the Winter Olympics, the freefall of the U.S. team at the World Championships in Germany has been nothing but ugly. While the American squad wasn't filled with the talent that wore the U.S. jerseys in Vancouver, no one would have predicted they would finish 13th in the tournament and found themselves fighting out of the relegation round.
This morning the U.S. team needed a shootout to defeat Italy 3-2 in their final game of the tournament and relegation round. St. Louis Blues forward T.J. Oshie(notes) scored the winner in the seventh round as Team USA won the relegation pool. Winning the pool means that they will a guaranteed participant at next year's World Championship in Slovakia. As far as what group they'll be a part of, that will be decided once the tournament ends and the updated world rankings are released.
Meanwhile, Team Canada lost their final game of the round-robin portion to the Czech Republic 3-2. Canada has cut the Czech lead to one with just over a minute to play after Corey Perry(notes) bumped into goaltender Tomas Vokoun(notes) behind the net, allowing Matt Duchene(notes) to score on an empty goal. (I know what you're saying: "Corey Perry, contact with a goaltender? No way!") The Perry bump led to a post-goal scrum and the tensions boiled over after the final whistle:
The loss now sets up a date in the quarterfinals on Thursday with Russia, who defeated Finland this afternoon. It won't get quite the build up that the meeting between the two countries at the Olympics did, but it will be an attractive matchup of the last two World Championship gold medal games, that saw both going to the Russians.