U.S. survives "Hiller Time"

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By Steve Keating

VANCOUVER (Reuters) - The United States overcame an astonishing display of goaltending to become the first team to reach the Olympic men's ice hockey semi-finals on Wednesday with a hard-fought 2-0 win over gritty Switzerland.

Zach Parise accounted for all the scoring with a third period powerplay goal and an empty net marker while Ryan Miller notched the shutout to power the unbeaten Americans to their fourth straight win and a place in the final four.

But it was Swiss netminder Jonas Hiller who earned the admiration of a capacity crowd at Canada Hockey Place and his American opposite number.

"I'm just happy him building his resume didn't come at my expense," Miller told reporters. "I knew I was going to have to play well against Jonas.

"We also knew it was going to be a tight game."

Miller had been the center of a Games controversy for sporting "Miller Time" on his helmet before Olympic officials forced him to remove the popular slogan used by a beer company, but it was Hiller who brewed up a special display of netminding.

No one watching could deny the semi-final was "Hiller Time" as the Swiss netminder put on a spectacular goaltending clinic that kept the battling Alpine nation in the contest right until the final buzzer.

"It's tough to lose 1-0 or 2-0," said Hiller, who plays for NHL team the Anaheim Ducks. "Sometimes a 5-0 defeat is easier to swallow.

"We showed (we could keep it) very close. But we also know there is some work to be done to get closer and to be able to move on to the semi-finals."

Hiller, one of just three NHL players in the Swiss line-up, was brilliant as the Americans outshot their opponents 44-19, most of the Swiss shots coming late in the third period as they pressed for the equalizer.

(Editing by Ed Osmond)