USA kick off U17s with strong effort over Czechs

USA kick off U17s with strong effort over Czechs

Steven Ellis04 Nov 2018Steven Ellis»
 

The United States of America started their bid to win back-to-back titles at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge, kicking off the week at the Harbor Station with a 5-1 victory over the Czech Republic on Sunday afternoon.

 
 
 
 

The United States of America started their bid to win back-to-back titles at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge, kicking off the week at the Harbor Station with a 5-1 victory over the Czech Republic on Sunday afternoon.

The Americans came in hungry, given that there is always a lot of pressure on the team that plays together all season long. A late goal in the first period would give them some momentum heading into the intermission. Owen Gallatin's patience on a partial cycle would allow Dylan Peterson to get to the left of the net, undetected by the Czechs.  Gallatin would send a cross-ice pass to Peterson, who quickly knocked the puck past Nick Malik for the 1-0 goal late in the opening frame.

At 3:03 in the second, the Americans would double their advantage. This time, Thomas Bordeleau would start the 2-on-1 shorthanded rush down the right side and would set up a streaking Luke Tuch, who used his momentum to quickly redirect the shot past Malik and in for the goal.

The Czech Republic had problems converting on their power play, and after four straight calls against the Americans, USA made them pay for not capitalizing. Midway through the game, Blake Blondi would take advantage of a bouncing puck and brought it to the corner to the right of the Czech net. He then fed Landon Slaggert in front, with Slaggert easily one-timing it in the net for USA's third goal.

Then, at 12:20, Hunter Strand made it 4-0. Eamon Powell tried to make a quick move going towards the net but a Czech defender managed to poke it away. Strand was right there on the rush to scoop it back up, sending a fast wrister past Malik to make it 4-0 as USA truly had complete control of the game.

A late third-period goal by the Czechs gave the team some hope. At 18:54, Pavel Novak, one of the top players on the Czechs, took a feed from Thomas Chlubna in the slot and slid it between the legs of Drew Commesso to make it 4-1 before the end of the second. The officials would give Sebastian Malat credit for the goal, but Novak is the one who beat Commesso for the team's first goal of the tournament. The goal didn't matter much in the end, as Matt Beniers scored one late in the game to finish off the 5-1 victory for the States. 

USA won't get any time to rest as the team will play Canada White at 7:30 PM AST on Monday and Canada Black at 3:30 PM on Tuesday. The Czechs also won't have any downtime, playing Canada Black tomorrow and Canada White to finish round-robin play on Tuesday.

Follow me on Twitter, @StevenEllisNHL.

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