BRECLAV, Czech Republic -- Four different U.S. players scored goals and goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic (Parma, Ohio) made 23 saves to help the U.S. Under-18 Select Team defeat the Czech Republic, 5-3, in the semifinals of the 2013 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament today.
"The guys really dug down deep to get the win," head coach Bob Corkum said. "It was really hot and humid in the arena, but they battled through everything and got the job done when it mattered. Now it's important for them to get rest and fluids with the quick turnaround, and then we'll get ready for tomorrow."
After an early first-period goal gave the Czech Republic a 1-0 lead, Jake Wahlin (St. Paul, Minn.) took a drop pass from Cody Milan (White Lake, Mich.) and placed a shot between Czech goaltender Vic Vanecek and the post to knot the score at 9:49. Then, eight minutes later, Team USA took the lead when Nick Schmaltz (Verona, Wis.) scored on a shot through traffic just after a power play ended to give the U.S. a 2-1 edge at intermission.
The Czech Republic responded with a goal early in the middle frame, but Schmaltz helped the U.S. regain a one-goal advantage two minutes later. As the Czech Republic tried to clear its own zone, Schmaltz intercepted a pass and beat Vanecek for his second goal of the contest.
Ryan Wagner (Park Ridge, Ill.) broke a 3-3 midway through the third period when he got behind the Czech Republic defense and tallied the game-winning goal. Milan added an empty-netter to cap the scoring.
The U.S. will play Canada in tomorrow's championship game at 11:00 a.m. ET in Piestany, Slovakia. It marks the ninth time in Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament history that the U.S. has played for the championship, and is the first appearance for the United States in the title game since 2010.
NOTES: Nick Schmaltz was named U.S. Player of the Game ... Schmaltz leads the tournament in goals (5) and points (8) entering Saturday's championship game ... The championship game vs. Canada will be a rematch of the 2010 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament final ... Follow the 2013 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament on Twitter by following @USAHockeyScores and using #IvanHlinka ... The 2013 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament features teams from Canada, Czech Republic, Finland, Russia, Slovakia, Sweden, Switzerland and the United States ... Team USA has finished in the top three of the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament 10 times since the tournament's inception in 1991, including a first-place finish in 2003. The U.S. has finished second seven times (1993, 1994, 1996, 1999, 2000, 2006, 2010) and third twice (1991, 1995) ... Team USA finished in seventh place last year ... The 22 players on the U.S. roster represent 10 different states. Minnesota leads the way with eight representatives, while Michigan has four and both Illinois and Colorado have two ... Bob Corkum (Salisbury, Mass.) serves as head coach and John Gruden (Virginia, Minn.), assistant coach with USA Hockey's National Team Development Program, Matt Herr (Hackensack, N.J.) a regional manager of USA Hockey's American Development Model, and Derek Plante (Cloquet, Minn.), assistant coach at the University of Minnesota Duluth, serve as assistant coaches.
Scoring By Period 1 2 3 Total
USA 2 1 2 5
CZE 1 2 0 3
First Period -- Scoring: 1, CZE, Zacha (Karabacek), 4:04 (pp); 2, USA, Wahlin (Milan), 9:49; 3, USA, Schmaltz (Dougherty), 18:10. Penalties: USA, Haydon (charging), 3:16; CZE, Zboril (tripping), 16:05.
Second Period -- Scoring: 4, CZE, Vrana (Zboril, Pastrnak), 8:09 (pp); 5, USA, Schmaltz (unassisted), 10:08; 6, CZE, Jacha (Karabacek), 19:20. Penalties: USA, Mantha (delay of game), 2:48; USA, Dougherty (interference), 4:44; CZE, Bench (too many men), 5:36; USA, Haydon (tripping), 6:53; USA, Iverson (slashing), 14:20; USA, Schmaltz (tripping), 16:34.
Third Period -- Scoring: 7, USA, Wagner (unassisted), 8:46; 8, USA, Milan (unassisted), 19:54 (en). Penalties: USA, Nardella (tripping), 1:16.
Shots By Period 1 2 3 Total
USA 18 14 15 47
CZE 10 9 7 26
Goaltenders (SV/SH) 1 2 3 Total
USA, Nedeljkovic 60:00 9/10 7/9 7/7 23/26
CZE, Vanecek 58:40 16/18 13/14 13/14 42/46
Power Play: USA, 0-2; CZE, 2-7
Penalties: USA, 7-14; CZE, 2-4