Edmonton, ALBERTA – Carter Mazur (Jackson, Mich.) scored late on the powerplay to put the U.S. within one goal in final 10 minutes, but a Czechia empty net goal put the game out of reach at 4-2, ending Team USA’s run at the 2022 IIHF World Junior Championship here tonight at Rogers Place in Edmonton, Alberta.
“These games are tough and we struggled to get into our game today,” said Nate Leaman, head coach of the U.S. National Junior Team. “Our first 10 minutes were good but we struggled to manage the puck. We played a good Czechia team, they played hard and blocked a lot of shots, and you have to tip your hat to them.”
Forwards Mackie Samoskevich (Newtown, Conn.), Dominic James (Plymouth, Mich.) and Brett Berard (East Greenwich, R.I.) introduced Team USA’s offensive attack with an effective cycle to open the game, keeping possession in the zone with a handful of scoring opportunities, but Czechia’s Tomas Suchanek kept the game scoreless.
The U.S. piled on 10 shots in the first 10 minutes, including another scoring opportunity for Samoskevich as he deked into the slot, but it wasn’t until 12:03 into the frame that Team USA finally broke through.
Matt Knies (Phoenix, Ariz.) dumped the puck into the zone as it rattled off the boards and back to the front of the net. Matt Coronato (New York, N.Y.) quickly spun and fired a shot on net that was stopped, but Logan Cooley (West Mifflin, Pa.) was there to collect the rebound. With two minutes remaining, Czechia tied the game at 1-1, after firing a shot from the blue line that was deflected in. Both teams combined for a high-paced offensive period, with the U.S. outshooting Czechia, 16-10.
5:22 into the second period, Czechia went on a partial 2-on-1 breakaway, firing a shot that Kaidan Mbereko (Aspen, Colo.) snagged out of the air with his glove to calm the pace. Berard returned down ice for the U.S. for a chance of his own, but the score remained tied. Czechia grabbed a 2-1 lead two minutes later, while on the rush, ringing a shot off the pipe and in. It was the first time in the 2022 IIHF World Junior Championship that the U.S. was trailing in a game. Czechia was opportunistic on the rush again, firing a shot in for a 3-1 lead midway through the game.
Czechia’s powerplay got to work early in the third period, with a five-minute major, but the U.S. penalty kill unit prevented any offense for 1:17 and drew a penalty, putting the teams at 4-on-4 for two minutes. The U.S. pushed offensively, with Mazur firing a shot low in the slot, but neither team scored. Team USA’s penalty kill handled the remainder of the major penalty.
Team USA’s powerplay unit then took to the ice for a five-minute man advantage. Luke Hughes (Canton, Mich.) took the puck and switched with Thomas Bordeleau (Houston, Texas), vacating the blue line. Bordeleau fired a shot that Mazur knocked home on the rebound, putting the U.S. within one. Team USA pulled their netminder with two minutes remaining in favor of 6-on-5 advantage for a tying goal, but Czechia scored into the vacated net for a 4-2 final.
Mbereko stopped 20 of 23 shots for the U.S.
NOTES: Carter Mazur (Jackson, Mich.) was named U.S. Player of the Game … The U.S. outshot Czechia, 30-24 … Team USA went 1-2 on the powerplay, while Czechia went 0-1 on the man advantage… Thomas Bordeleau (Houston, Texas), Carter Mazur (Jackson, Mich.) and Luke Hughes (Canton, Mich.) were named the Top-3 Players of the Tournament for Team USA.