FRISCO, Texas - Sasha Pastujov (Bradenton, Fla.) scored the game-tying goal in the third period and Kaidan Mbereko (Aspen, Colo.) made 30 saves, plus an additional five in the shootout, to lead the U.S. Under-18 Men's National Team past the Czech Republic, 2-1, here tonight at Comerica Center.
Pastujov put the U.S. on the board, and ultimately sent the game to extra time, 2:35 into the third period with his team-leading third goal of the tournament. Lane Hutson (Barrington, Ill.) made a nice play at the right point to evade a defender and drove towards the center of the ice. He slid a pass to Pastujov at the right wing who ripped his wrister off the blocker of the goalie and in for the crucial game-tying goal.
"You go through a tournament like this and that mental resiliency has to play a role and we’ve faced that already," said head coach Dan Muse (Canton, Mass.) after the win. "The big thing for me is that we’re learning from things. We’re learning when things don’t go well, because nothing is going to be perfect. We have to make sure that we’re growing as we move forward. I think our start tonight was an example of that."
The Czechs took a 1-0 lead into the first intermission as Martin Rysavy connected on a shot from just outside the crease with 4:03 to play in the opening period.
The U.S. applied late pressure on its first power-play opportunity with a bevy of shots in the final two minutes, but could not beat the Czech's Oliver Satny to get on the board.
Mbereko, playing in his first game of the tournament, made 16 saves in the first, none better than a right pad stop that denied Jakub Altrichter on a breakaway just past the midway mark of the period.
Team USA outshot the Czech Republic, 11-9, in a goalless middle frame as the score remained 1-0 after 40 minutes of action.
With no goals coming in the final minutes, the teams headed to overtime and the U.S. started the extra period on the power-play. Team USA controlled most of the overtime period and generated several scoring chances, but was unable to break the deadlock and the two teams headed to a shootout.
In the five-round shootout, Mbereko stopped all five Czech shooters. Hutson scored the lone goal for the U.S. to pick up the win and two points for Team USA.
Next up, the U.S. faces Finland on Saturday (May 1) at 8 p.m. CT/9 p.m. ET to close out preliminary-round play.
NOTES: With 30 saves, goaltender Kaidan Mbereko was named the U.S. Player of the Game, presented by Elite Prospects... Team USA news, interviews, highlights and more can be found at TeamUSA.USAHockey.com....For the official IIHF home for the 2021 Under-18 World Championship, click here... 23 of the 24 players on Team USA's roster come from the National Team Development Program... The U.S. enters the tournament having medaled in a record 16 consecutive tournaments, including six golds in the past 10 competitions... Team USA has won 10 gold medals in tournament history, the most of any country in Under-18 Men's World Championship history... For the latest news and information about the tournament, follow @USAHockey on Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Facebook.