LANDSHUT, Germany - The U.S. Under-18 Men's National Team used a pair of goals from Rutger McGroarty (Lincoln, Neb.) to top Czechia 6-2, Sunday afternoon at Fanatec Arena.
"We try to stay composed and focus on the things we can control," said head coach Adam Nightingale (Cheboygan, Mich.) after the team was down 1-0 after a period. "There was no panic in the room, but we knew we had to be better and they went out and had a great finish to the game. It was a good team win and we look forward to our game on Tuesday."
Czechia netted the first goal of the game off a penalty shot from Jiri Kulich. The Czech captain skated down the middle and put his wrister over the glove of Tyler Muszelik (Long Valley, N.J.) for the lone tally of the opening period.
Muszelik turned in an impressive opening 20 minutes with 11 saves. His best stop came when he blockered away an attempt from Eduard Sale off a 3-on-1 Czech rush.
Team USA found its stride in the middle period, scoring four times in 7:02, which began with an Isaac Howard (Hudson, Wis.) power-play goal. Seamus Casey (Fort Myers, Fla.) started the breakout and found Howard at the attacking blue line. With limited Czech pressure, Howard toured the offensive zone, brought the puck up high and fired in a shot from the top of the right circle, his fifth score of the tournament.
After sustained offensive pressure from the U.S., Jimmy Snuggerud (Chaska, Minn.) gave the team its first lead of the afternoon with a quick shot from the left hashmarks. Logan Cooley (Pittsburgh, Pa.) found him with a misdirection pass and Cutter Gauthier (Scottsale, Ariz.) picked up the secondary helper on the score at 8:26 of the second.
Ryan Leonard (Amherst, Mass.) used a give-and-go sequence with Lane Hutson (North Barrington, Ill.) to double the USA lead 30 seconds later. Leonard went low to high with the defenseman, who returned the pass immediately. Leonard received the puck back, spun around a Czech defender and fired in the short-side top corner from the left circle to make it 3-1.
McGroarty, who was named the U.S. Player of the Game, made it four in a row with a rocket from the right wing. McGroarty started the sequence and found Devin Kaplan (Bridgewater, N.J.) down low along the left half wall. He went cross-ice back to the captain, who wasted no time sending it over the blocker to net his first of the tournament.
Cooley added a power-play marker at 8:35 of the third to make it 5-1 in favor of Team USA. Gauthier won the offensive-zone draw and Cooley picked it up, got behind the defense and scored in alone with a five-hole finish.
Lukas Plos found the back of the net with a wrist-shot from the left wing with 7:25 to play in regulation to make it 5-2.
McGroarty added his second of the game, with assists from Cruz Lucius (Grant, Minn.) and Charlie Stramel (Rosemount, Minn.), for the 6-2 final.
Muszelik ended the game with 35 saves as he picked up his first International Ice Hockey Federation win in net for the U.S.
Team USA is off tomorrow before returning to the ice Tuesday evening to play Germany at 7:30 p.m. (1:30 p.m. ET). The game will broadcast live on NHL Network.