BASEL, Switzerland - The U.S. Under-18 Men's National Team enters the knockout stage of the 2023 IIHF Under-18 Men's World Championship with a quarterfinal matchup against Czechia. Puck drop is slated for 12:30 p.m. local (6:30 a.m. ET) at St. Jakob Arena and the game will broadcast live on NHL Network.
Team USA comes into the quarters after sweeping preliminary-round play in Group B that ended with a dominating 10-0 shutout of host Switzerland on Tuesday afternoon. Forward Ryan Leonard (Amherst, Mass.) was named U.S. Player of the Game for the second time this tournament after a three-goal, two-assist, five-point game. One of four returners from last year’s team, Leonard’s six goals ranks second on the team and his seven assists is tied for third.
Drew Fortescue (Pearl River, N.Y.) scored his first goal of the tournament, and first goal of the entire 2022-23 season, just 15 seconds in to help set the tempo for Team USA.
“We got that huge goal early and that helped set the stage for the game," said Dan Muse (Canton, Mass.), head coach of the 2023 U.S. Under-18 Men's National Team. "We’ll take advantage of the day tomorrow and we’re excited for the quarterfinals on Thursday."
Forwards Gabe Perreault (Hinsdale, Ill.) and Will Smith (Lexington, Mass.) continued to do identical damage, as each skater recorded a goal and three assists in the 10-0 win. Both future Boston College Eagles keep pace with each to lead the tournament in scoring with 15 points (5g-10a) through just four games played. Smith, another returner from last year, and Leonard both have 19 career points in the event to rank sixth all-time by a U.S. skater.
U.S. netminder Trey Augustine (South Lyon, Mich.) made 14 stops in 40 minutes of action win to pick up his third win in as many appearances and his 10th career IIHF victory. Carsen Musser (Sherburn, Minn.) manned the cage for the final period to give Team USA its first shutout since a 6-0 quarterfinal win over Finland back on April 25, 2019.
Czechia finished in fourth place in Group A, who played their games at Raiffeisen Arena in Porrentruy. They opened the tourney with a 3-2 shootout loss to Latvia, followed with a 7-1 win over Germany, and fell to both Sweden (2-0) and Canada (8-3) in their final two games. The Czechs are led by forward Eduard Sale’s four goals and five points. The 6-foot-2 winger was ranked fourth on NHL Central Scouting’s final 2023 draft rankings among all European skaters. Michael Hrabal, who played this season for the USHL’s Omaha Lancers, is an imposing figure manning their net, standing in at 6-foot-6, 209 pounds. He has been one of the tournament’s top ‘tenders with a 2.88 GAA and .919 save percentage.
The U.S. Under-18 Men's National Team is 15-2-1-1 (W-OTW-OTL-L) all-time against Czechia in the tournament, and 4-1-0-0 in the first five quarterfinal matchups. The all-time quarterfinal history between the two teams is below:
April 19, 2001 – Czechia 5, USA 4 (SO)
April 16, 2009 -- USA 6, Czechia 2
April 20, 2010 -- USA 6, Czechia 0
April 23, 2015 -- USA 7, Czechia 2
April 21, 2016 -- USA 8, Czechia 0