OSTRAVA, Czech Republic – Cole Caufield (Stevens Point, Wis.) scored the game-winning goal with 1:46 remaining in overtime to push the U.S. National Junior Team past the Czech Republic, 4-3, in its fourth and final preliminary round game of the 2020 IIHF World Junior Championship tonight at Ostravar Arena.
With the win, the U.S. completes the preliminary round with a record of 2-1-0-1 (W-OTW-OTL-L) and will finish as the first or second seed in Group B heading into the quarterfinals, which will be played Thursday, Jan. 2. Game times and matchups are to be determined. The game will be broadcast live on NHL Network.
“We knew there was going to be some adversity in this game and there certainly was with penalties and the [penalty] kills, but that’s how games go and it was great to see our guys pull it out in the end,” said head coach Scott Sandelin (Hibbing, Minn.). “[Caufield and Turcotte] made a great play. They have some great chemistry and it looks like they’ve done that before.”
The Czech Republic wanted to push early with a sellout home crowd cheering them on, but the U.S. started fast. Taking to the power play 2:55 into the first period, U.S. forward Nick Robertson (Lakeville, Mich.) skated behind the Czech net to find an open Shane Pinto (Franklin Square, N.Y.). Pinto jammed the puck under goaltender Lukas Parik for his fourth goal in as many games.
Five minutes later, Czech Republic settled into the U.S. defensive zone. A quick shot from captain Libor Zabransky, while moving across the blue line, snuck its way through a screen to tie the game at one apiece.
The Czech offense continued to push late in the period, as Spencer Knight (Darrien, Conn.) was forced to make a save through a screen, sliding side to side to kick away the rebound opportunity. With less than two minutes remaining, Czech Republic found the back of the net while on a 5-on-3 man advantage. Knight made back-to-back sliding saves, but it wasn’t enough to stop Zabransky from netting his second of the period.
Just over a minute into the second period, it appeared Arthur Kaliyev (Staten Island, N.Y.) scored with a sharp-angle shot from the right half wall during a delayed penalty call against the Czech Republic. After an official review, it was confirmed that Kaliyev’s shot had crossed the goal line, and the game was tied 2-2.
With less than five minutes to play in the middle frame, Zac Jones (Glen Allen, Va.) raced down ice to negate an icing call. The effort allowed the U.S. to start its cycle, as Trevor Zegras (Bedford, N.Y.) completed a spinning pass across the Czech crease and onto the stick of Jack Drury (Winnetka, Ill.), who found the back of the net. The highlight-worthy pass was Zegras’ ninth assist of the 2020 IIHF World Junior Championship, tying him fourth all-time in U.S. tournament history.
The U.S. threatened early in the third, spending nearly all of a power play applying pressure in the offensive zone, but wasn’t able to extend its one-goal advantage.
Shortly following the U.S. power play, the Czechs thought they had evened the score during a delayed penalty on the U.S., but after review officials determined that Knight was interfered with on the play and the U.S. one-goal advantage would remain. However, on the ensuing power play, the Czech Republic’s Petr Cajka was able to sneak a rebound past Knight during a net-front scramble to even the score with 11:19 left to play.
The U.S. jumped back on the offensive during a power play of their own with 8:52 remaining, as Oliver Wahlstrom (Quincy, Mass.) took a wrist shot through traffic from the left circle that beat the Czech netminder on the blocker side, but rang the outside of the post.
At the end of regulation the teams remained tied and the game headed to overtime.
With 1:46 remaining in the overtime period, Caufield dished the puck to Alex Turcotte (Chicago, Ill.) before sliding behind a Czech defender to find open space. Turcotte immediately dished it back to Caufield who one-timed a shot from the left hash into the net for the game-winner. With the overtime victory, USA extended its win streak over Czech Republic to six games.
NOTES: Cole Caufield (Stevens Points, Wis.) was named U.S. Player of the Game … U.S. outshot Czech Republic 43-29 … The U.S. went 1 for 7 on the power play and 4 for 6 on the penalty kill … For complete game statistics click here … The U.S. (2-1-0-1) has advanced to quarterfinals and is awaiting its opponent for Thursday (Jan. 2) … For more information about the tournament click here.
|Date||Opponent||Location||TIME (LOCAL/ET)/RESULT||Broadcast||U.S. Player of the Game|
|Thurs., Dec. 26||Canada
|Ostravar Arena||L, 4-6||NHL Network||Shane Pinto|
|Fri., Dec. 27||Germany
|Ostravar Arena||W, 6-3||NHL Network||Trevor Zegras|
|Sun., Dec. 29||Russia
|Ostravar Arena||W, 3-1||NHL Network||Spencer Knight|
|Mon., Dec. 30||Czech Republic
|Ostravar Arena||OTW, 4-3||NHL Network||Cole Caufield|
|Thurs., Jan. 2||Finland
|Werk Arena||L, 0-1||NHL Network||Spencer Knight|