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United States and Canada move to final

January 4, 1997

GENEVA, Switzerland (AP) _ Erik Rasmussen scored two goals to lead the United States to a 5-2 win over the Czech Republic on Friday and a berth in the gold medal match against Canada in the world junior hockey championships.

Canada, looking for a record fifth consecutive title, advanced with a 3-2 victory over Russia, setting up the first North American final in the championship’s history.

The United States, which had never before finished higher than third, is already guaranteed a silver medal.

The Americans and the Czechs each traded two goals in a seesaw first period.

Rasmussen, a first-round pick of the Buffalo Sabres, opened the scoring at 1:48 only to have Ondrej Kratena pull the Czechs even at 7:54.

Michael York restored the Americans’ lead at 11:42 but once again the Czechs came back, Marek Melenovsky sending the teams to the dressing room deadlocked at 2-2 with his goal at 18:03.

Thomas Poti recorded the only goal of the second period and the eventual game-winner when he blasted a slap shot from the top of the left face-off circle past Adam Svoboda at 12:41 to put the Americans ahead to stay.

Rasmussen and Mark Parrish added third-period goals to close out the scoring.

``Our team played well and we shot them down pretty much,″ U.S. coach Jeff Jackson said. ``The character of our team is what’s gotten us this far. The character, the discipline and the willingness to win is proof we made the right selection.

``We may not have the most talent but we’ve been the best.″

In the other semifinal, Boyd Devereaux, a sixth-round pick of the Edmonton Oilers in last year’s NHL draft, scored the winning and tying goals in Canada’s comeback win over Russia.

Alexei Morozov opened the scoring 11:53 into the first period on a power play when he knocked a loose puck past Marc Denis to put Russia ahead 1-0.

Despite giving up the goal, Denis was outstanding in the Canadian net keeping his team in the contest until Peter Schaefer tied the score at 1-1 with less than two minutes remaining in the period.

Roustem Gabdoulline had the only goal of the second period to restore Russia’s lead 3-2.

Just 49 seconds into the final period, Devereaux knocked in a rebound of Alyn McCauley’s shot to even the score at 2-2.

Just under nine minutes later, he recorded the winner to send Canada into the final for the seventh time in eight years.

``It was everything a Canada-Russia match should be,″ the 18-year-old Deveraux said. ``Fast and full of emotion.

``My heart didn’t stop pounding until the final buzzer.″

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