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U.S. cruises by Czechs to reach semis

SOCHI, Russia (Reuters) — The United States rolled into the semi-finals of the men's ice hockey tournament with a 5-2 victory over the Czech Republic at the Sochi Olympics on Wednesday.

The 2010 silver medalists scored 99 seconds into the game and, despite a solid effort from the Czechs during a fast-paced opening period, were never really tested the rest of the way.

David Backes's goal with two seconds remaining in the first period, when he took advantage of a big bounce off the end board and scored from along the goal line, held up as the game winner.

The United States will now play Canada in one of Friday's two semi-finals. The game will be a rematch of the 2010 gold medal clash, whichCanada won 3-2 in overtime.

Canada advances

Canada escaped with a nervy 2-1 quarter-final win over Latvia at the Sochi Olympic men's ice hockeytournament on Wednesday, to keep their gold medal defence on track.

Despite dominating play and outshooting the plucky Latvians 57-16, Canada needed a late goal from Shea Weber to move onto the semi-finals, where they will take on the United States in a rematch of the 2010 Vancouver Games gold medal final.

After trading goals in the opening period, Canada threw everything they had at Latvia but could not find the winner until Weber blasted a low slap shot past netminder Kristers Gudlevskis with just under seven minutes to play.