FONTAINE PROVIDES HEROICS, U.S. EDGES CZECHS
JASON LA ROSE
DAWSON CREEK, B.C. – Gunnarwolfe Fontaine tied the game with 2:27 left and won it 56 seconds into overtime, giving the United States a come-from-behind 5-4 win over the Czech Republic on Monday night at the 2019 World Junior A Challenge.
It’s the first time the Americans have started with back-to-back wins at the tournament since 2014.
Fontaine did it by himself on the extra-time winner, jumping on an errant pass at the Czech blue-line and knocking his own rebound through goaltender Jakub Dobes.
The Czechs were less than three minutes from their second-consecutive victory, but Fontaine took a touch pass from Brendan Brisson, waited for Dobes to make the first move and absolutely wired a wicked wrist shot off the post and in to force overtime.
Brisson played the role of provider in the first period, setting up both American goals.
On the first, he shook off a check from a Czech before finding Sean Farrell trailing the play, and he beat Dobes with a quick release from the slot.
With time ticking away in the opening frame, Brisson found Mitch Miller coming out of the penalty box and he went to the forehand on the breakaway to make it a 2-0 game after 20 minutes.
Just as they did in their win over Russia on Sunday, the Czechs battled back in the second period.
Ondrej Psenicka needed just 49 seconds of the middle stanza to score a power-play goal, one-timing a feed from Adam Klopka past U.S. netminder Ethan Haider, and Marcel Barinka finished on a two-on-one with Psenicka at 7:30 to draw the Czechs even.
Barinka struck again seven minutes later with a rocket from the blue-line, but Trevor Kuntar tapped in a short pass at the top of the crease only 48 seconds after that to draw the Americans even at 3-3 after a wild period.
The Czechs looked to have the winner with just over five minutes to go on a beauty; Robin Vsetecka knocked down a 115-foot stretch pass from Matej Morong at the U.S. blue-line, powered his way around a defender and slipped a backhand past Haider for a 4-3 advantage.
But Fontaine took over from there, spoiling a terrific 32-save performance from Dobes.
The Americans will travel to Fort St. John, B.C., for their next game, a first-place showdown with Canada East on Wednesday night (7 p.m. MT), while the Czechs will take on Canada West on Wednesday night in Dawson Creek in their next action (7 p.m. MT).