The Hockey Championship the U.S. Men Just Can’t Seem to Win

After a strong start, the U.S. men’s hockey team was disappointingly eliminated from the world championship over the weekend. Again.

The U.S. team, stocked with many N.H.L. players, had breezed through pool play in Finland with a 7-0 record, then beat the Czech Republic in the quarterfinal. That put the Americans into a semifinal against Germany, a team with players primarily from German League teams like Eisbären Berlin (the Berlin Polar Bears) and Kölner Haie (the Cologne Sharks).

The United States has failed to win a stand-alone world championship since 1933. It hasn’t even made a final since 1950. A victory over Germany on Saturday would have changed that. The United States lost, 4-3, in overtime.

The annual world championship is a curious event. It is an important international tournament, not far below the Olympics in prestige, at least among hockey devotees. But because it coincides with the N.H.L. playoffs, many nations are unable to play some of their best players.