IIHF Exclusive: Andy Roach
Photos: JUKKA RAUTIO (above), MIKKO JÄRVINEN (right)
Nobody does it more dandy than Andy
By Szymon Szemberg, IIHF
■ As USA’s Andy Roach skated towards the Czech
goalkeeper Tomas Vokoun, he knew exactly which move he would choose. Roach was selected as the fifth and last US shooter in the quarter-final penalty shoot- out in the 2004 IIHF World Championship and he had just seen four Czechs miss their penalty shots, and so did four of his teammates.
When Roach skated out to prepare for his shot, Jaromir Jagr was just leaving the ice after having missed the Czech’s fourth opportunity to take a lead in the score- less shoot-out. The last thing the American defenceman had on his mind was the fact that NHL-megastar Jagr makes more money in one year than Roach will ever make during his entire career.
The 31-year old defenseman has taken around 25 pen- altiy shots for Adler Mannheim in the German DEL, a league which decides tied regular season games with shoot-outs.
“After seeing all those players miss their shots, I didn’t feel much pressure”, says Andy to the IIHF News Release from his summer home in Scottsdale, Arizona. “I was pretty relaxed and after having studied goalie Vokoun during the shoot-out, I knew which move I’d take. I have three or four favourite moves which are pretty solid. As a small defenceman you need to have some offensive skill”, explains Andy who played for- ward until he was 18.
■ When Roach - who shoots right - was three or four
meters in front of Vokoun, he almost stopped as he executed to perfection his backhand-to-forehand move, something very few players dare to do in a high-pres- sure situation like this and when the ice is rough. The Czech goalie went for the backhand fake and Roach could slid the puck into a virtually empty net. “I was so happy, but I didn’t show too much emotion
as I skated back to our bench”, recalls Andy. “The Czechs had still one shot left.”
■ But the Olympic gold medallist and three-time IIHF
World Champion Jiri Dopita was also thwarted by US goalkeeper Ty Conklin. One of the biggest upsets in the modern history of the IIHF World Championships was a fact. The heavily favoured Czechs, who had won at least a medal in each of the eight previous world championships held on home ice, were out. Team USA, which finished 13th in Finland 2003, was going to the semi-final.
“Not until the next morning did we fully realize what we had done”, says Andy. “We saw all the headlines in the papers and we understood how much this meant to the Czech people.”
The US team lost the semi-final to Sweden, 3-2, but the team was determined to leave the Czech Republic with a medal. “Our management made a good job all the way in telling us what was at stake. In the beginning we were totally focused on trying to avoid the relegati- on round. Then there was the issue of the Olympic cut for 2006. When both those things were being taken care of, we were focused on medals. They told us that the US had won just two medals in 40 years in the world championship, so we definitely went after some hardware.”
■ The Bronze Medal game was scoreless after regu-
lation and the 10-minute overtime period and, for the second time in three games, Team USA faced a penalty shoot-out. This time around though, players scored. When Roach came as his teams’ number three, Matt Cullen and Chris Drury had already scored for the Americans, while Marian Hossa and Miroslav Satan were successful for Slovakia.
Now, Andy Roach had changed his game plan as he
HE TOOK HIM LEFT: Andy Roach scores the Bronze Medal winner against Slovakia’s Jan Lasak with a great backhand shot. The puck hit the goalcam and had to be reviewed by the video judge.
The shoot-out expert
HE TOOK HIM RIGHT: Roach put the Sazka Arena into total silence and the Czech Republic into a national trauma with this deft move below.
was facing goalie Jan Lasak. “I was sure that he saw my move against Vokoun so I didn’t want to repeat that. Instead I went for the back- hand move.”
■ Roach made Lasak go down and then lifted a nifty
backhander just under the crossbar. Another beauty. The photo on this page shows that the puck hit the goal camera, which made the puck bounce out very quickly, so fast that the shot had to be reviewed by the video goal judge.
“I knew that the puck was in”, said Andy. “There was no doubt in my mind”.
The Slovaks would not score another goal in the shoot- out and while Eric Westrum sealed the US victory with yet another penalty shot, it is Roach’s goal which even- tually counted as the game winning goal.
■ This means that Andy Roach became the first play-
er in IIHF World Championship history to score two game winning penalty shots in one tournament, some- thing he was not aware of until so told by the IIHF.
“The world championship is the most fun I have ever had in my career, probably the three best weeks of my hockey life. I don’t know if I will have the opportunity to do this again so I will always remember this experience.”
“I hope that this might open the eyes of hockey people in general that players who are non NHLers can also play the game on this level”, says Andy who has never even been to a NHL-team training camp.
But if Andy Roach will be in Austria 2005, he knows that the goalies will be ready for his tricks.