Team USA has racked up a five-game winning streak to ensure its best showing in five years at the World Hockey Championships.
The U.S. team clinched fifth place Sunday with an easy 4-1 win over Norway.Motivation for the American players, already secure from being relegated to the `B' pool by finishing last at this tournament, came mainly from the charge toward gaining a spot in hockey annals. And they did.
The Americans' five-game winning streak is the longest since a U.S. squad captured the gold in the 1933 worlds.
Fifth place is Team USA's best showing since it last made the medal round and finished fourth at the 1985 championships.
"Norway played better than we did tonight, but goaltending and defense made the difference," U.S. Coach Tim Taylor said.
Norway, playing in the championships for the first time in 25 years, failed to clinch its Group A berth. But the Norwegians can still afford to lose by three goals against West Germany on Tuesday and avoid relegation. West Germany played a 1-1 tie against Finland.
Monday's second games of the medal round pit the defending champion Soviets against Canada. Sweden, which missed a medal while playing host to last year's tournament, takes on the young Czechoslovak team.
The Soviet Union beat Sweden 3-0 in opening medal-round play and Czechoslovakia suprised Canada 3-2.
Three NHL players - Jeff Norton of the Islanders, Paul Ranheim of the Flames and Kevin Stevens of the Penguins - paced the U.S. win with a goal each.
Greg Brown of Boston College added the fourth score.
Norway's Geir Hoff briefly had tied the score midway through the first period.