Czech Republic surge clear, US maintain challenge


Tomas Plekanec scored twice as Czech Republic moved five points clear at the top of IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship Group A with a 3-1 victory over Kazakhstan on Friday.

The Czechs, who won their sixth title in 2010, have made a blistering start to this year's championship and are unbeaten after five matches.

Plekanec scored once in the first period before adding a second in the third, as last year's hosts overcame a spirited display by Kazakh goaltender Vitali Kolesnik.

"It was tough for us today because we played yesterday as well," said Czech Republic's Jan Kolar. "We weren't too worried that it was taking a long time to get the game wrapped up.

"In a tournament like this you sometimes just have to grind out the win without playing pretty."

Latvia struck the frame of the goal at 2-2 in the final second of their clash with Denmark - the Scandinavian side going on to claim the win on penalties.

In Group B, United States are third following a 5-1 win against Hungary in which three second-period goals did the damage.

"In the first period, we dominated." Auston Matthews said. "We had a ton of shots and we limited them to one.

"We were producing a lot of scoring chances, but their goalie played extremely well. In the end, we kind of broke him down a little bit and were able to get a couple on him."

Germany, meanwhile, posted a 5-1 win over Belarus and are two points behind the American side in fourth.