AMERICANS USE BIG SECOND PERIOD TO DOWN CZECHS IN U17 OPENER
JASON LA ROSE
SAINT JOHN, N.B. – Luke Tuch, Landon Slaggert and Hunter Strand scored goals in the decisive second period, helping the United States to a 5-1 win over the Czech Republic in the opening game for both Sunday at the 2018 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge.
The Americans got goals from five different players and points from 11 while holding the Czechs to just 15 shots. They won for the 38th time in their last 41 preliminary-round games at the tournament.
The lone goal of the first period came late; Owen Gallatin threaded the needle through a maze of sticks to find Dylan Peterson for a tap-in and a 1-0 U.S. lead after 20 minutes.
Tuch doubled the lead just past the three-minute mark of the second period, finishing a two-on-one with Thomas Bordeleau for a shorthanded marker before Slaggert one-timed a pass from Eamon Powell for the 3-0 goal at 9:45.
Strand made it a four-goal game less than three minutes after that, toe-dragging around a Czech defender and snapping a quick shot past the glove of goaltender Nick Malik.
A run of American penalties gave the Czechs a pair of five-on-three power plays late in the middle frame, and they finally broke just a few seconds after the last of the man advantages ended; Pavel Novak redirected a Tomas Chlubna pass through U.S. netminder Drew Commesso to make it 4-1 after two periods.
But the Europeans managed just two shots on goal in the final stanza, and Matthew Beniers finished the scoring with just over six minutes to go, moving the U.S. to 9-1 all-time against the Czechs at the tournament.
Both teams get right back to action Monday at Harbour Station; the Czechs are up first, taking on Canada Black (3:30 p.m. AT), followed by the Americans facing off against Canada White (7:30 p.m. AT).