BIG FIRST PERIOD LEADS U.S. PAST CZECHS IN U17 OPENER
JASON LA ROSE
DAWSON CREEK, B.C. – Jack Hughes scored twice as part of a three-goal first period, and the United States beat the Czech Republic 5-2 in the first Group A game for both Sunday at the 2017 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge.
The Americans topped the Czechs for the sixth-consecutive time, dating back to a 2-1 semifinal loss at the 1998 U17 tournament in Kitchener, Ont. The U.S. has won eight of nine all-time meetings.
Alex Turcotte was first onto the scoresheet for the U.S., finishing a pretty set-up from Trevor Zegras on the power play at 9:12, before Hughes knocked in a rebound for a 2-0 lead just over six minutes later.
He added his second with less than two minutes to go in the opening frame on another American man advantage, taking a pass at the side of the net and stuffing his shot far-side on Czech goaltender Nick Malik.
The offensive onslaught continued with a Danny Weight goal just 32 seconds into the second period and the U.S. looked to be ready to pull away, much like it did in a 9-1 pre-tournament win over Canada Red.
But Adam Najman got the Czechs on the board at 11:20, poking in a rebound, and Marcel Barinka made it a two-goal game just 19 seconds after that, cutting the American lead in half heading to the final frame.
The Europeans managed just two shots on goal in the third period, though, and Patrick Moynihan blasted a shot past Malik from the high slot early at 6:27 to finish the scoring.
The U.S. had a 34-20 advantage in shots on goal.
Group A play continues for both teams Monday at the Encana Events Centre; the Americans are up first, taking on Canada White (2:30 p.m. MT) before the Czechs meet Canada Black (7 p.m. MT).