PRINCETON, N.J. – Former ECHL coach Peter Laviolette and former ECHL goaltender Alex Westlund helped the United States capture the bronze medal with a 1-0 shootout win over Slovakia on Sunday at the at the 2004 International Ice Hockey Federation Men’s World Championship.
It is the first medal for Team USA at the IIHF World Championship since 1996 when it also captured the bronze. It is the third appearance in the last nine years by Team USA in a Medal-Round Game of the IIHF Men’s World Championship and each has been for the bronze medal. In 1996 the United States captured the bronze in Austria and in 2001 it finished fourth in Germany. The medal in 1996 was the first medal for Team USA since a bronze medal back in 1962.
The ECHL was represented by 31 players and 13 of the 16 teams competing had an ECHL player on their roster, including six players for Latvia and five players for Japan.
Laviolette began his coaching career in 1997-98 with Wheeling while Westlund played for Dayton in 2000-01, for Toledo and Cincinnati in 2001-02, and for Trenton in 2003-04. Westlund was 1-0-0 with a goals against average of 0.00 and a save percentage of 1.000, playing 40 minutes and making 10 saves in an 8-3 win against Denmark.
Jan Lasak, who played for Hampton Roads in 1999-2000, was 5-2-2 and led the tournament in shutouts (4), goals against average (1.00) and save percentage (.954) while helping Slovakia advance to the Medal Round. Tomas Vokoun, who played for Wheeling in 1995-96, was 5-1-0 for the Czech Republic and led the tournament with a save percentage of .944 while ranking second in goals against average (1.11) and tied for second in shutouts (2).
Arturs Irbe, who played for Johnstown in 2003-04, was 2-1-2 for Latvia and ranked fourth in the tournament in goals against average (1.80) and fifth in save percentage (.925). Aigars Cipruss, who played for Nashville in 1994-96, and defenseman Oleg Sorokin, who played for Jacksonville and Roanoke in 1996-97, each had two assists for Latvia while Herbert Vasilijevs, who played for Knoxville in 1996-97, had one assist.
Olaf Kolzig, who played for Hampton Roads in 1990-92, was 2-2-1 for Germany and ranked seventh in goals against average (2.21) and save percentage (.921).
Chris Bright, who played for Louisville in 1991-93 and South Carolina in 1993-95, led Japan with five points and tied for the team lead with two goals and three assists. Yutaka Fukufuji, who played for Cincinnati in 2002-03, was 0-3-2 for Japan and ranked 14th in save percentage (.893) and 15th in goals against average (3.61). Defenseman Kengo Ito, who played for Charlotte in 2003-04, tied for the team lead with two goals and tied for second with three points while Takahito Suzuki, who played for Charlotte in 2002-03, scored a goal.
Andrei Bashkirov, who played for Charlotte in 1993-95 and Huntington in 1995-97, played for Russia and tied for second on the team with two goals.
Vitali Yeremeyev, who played for Charlotte in 2000-01, was 1-3-1 with a shutout for Kazakhstan and ranked 14th in goals against average (3.26) and 15th in save percentage (.887). Defenseman Oleg Kovalenko, who played for Erie in 1993-94, had two points for Kazakhstan (0g-2a).
Peter Hirsch, who played for Bakersfield in 2003-04, was 1-4-0 for Denmark and ranked 18th in save percentage (.843) and goals against average (5.51).
Defenseman Andre Lakos, who played for Augusta in 2002-03, played for Austria tying for second on the team with two assists and tying for fourth with three points.
Mark Streit, who played for Tallahassee in 1999-2000, scored a goal and had an assist for Switzerland.