The United States faces the Czech Republic tonight at Helsinki Ice Hall (8,200) in the quarterfinals of the 2016 IIHF World Junior Championship. Tonight’s game will be televised live in the U.S. on NHL Network. The two teams have met in the quarterfinals four times, with the U.S. claiming wins in three of those games. Their last quarterfinal meeting was a 7-0 U.S. victory on Jan. 2, 2013.
SERIES VS. CZECH REPUBLIC
The U.S. leads the all-time series versus the Czech Republic, 10-1-1-7-1 (W-OTW-OTL-L-T) in the IIHF World Junior Championship. In their 20 meetings to date, Team USA has outscored the Czechs, 63-60, including 21-11 over the last five meetings. The last meeting was a 5-1 U.S. victory on Dec. 26, 2013, in the preliminary round.
TEAM USA STATS THUS FAR
Through four games, Auston Matthews is tied for second in goals (4) and fourth in points (8) in the 2016 IIHF World Junior Championship ... Zach Werenski is second in points (5) among all defensemen ... Fifteen players have earned at least one point ... The line of Auston Matthews (4-4-8), Matthew Tkachuk (2-5-7) and Colin White (3-4-7) has combined for 22 points ... Matthews is the first U.S. player to notch at least eight points in a world junior championship since 2013 when Johnny Gaudreau (9), J.T. Miller (9), Jacob Trouba (9) and Alex Galchenyuk (8) each reached or surpassed the mark in seven games.
THINGS TO KNOW
Team USA is 7-7-0 all-time in quarterfinal games in the World Junior Championship (see list of results on page two of these notes) ... The U.S. trailed in three of its four preliminary round games ... Forward Alex DeBrincat, who was injured vs. Sweden on Dec. 28, will return to the lineup tonight ... U.S. Head Coach Ron Wilson on the Czech Republic, “They’re a real disciplined team that doesn’t give up many shots. We have to stick to our style of play in order to have success here tonight.” ... Seven players, including Louie Belpedio, Anders Bjork, Brandon Fortunato, Ryan Hitchcock, Auston Matthews, Sonny Milano, and Alex Nedeljkovic, will face 15 players who were on the Czech squad that faced the U.S. Men’s National Under-18 Team in the gold-medal game of the 2014 IIHF Under-18 Men’s World Championship. Led by head coach Danton Cole and assistant coach Kevin Reiter, the U.S. received two goals from Matthews and a three-point performance (2-1) from U.S. Player of the Game Milano to win the gold medal with a 5-2 victory ... Team USA (3-0-0-1) won three of its four preliminary-round games for the third year in a row ... For the U.S., five goals against ties the 1997 U.S. squad for second fewest goals allowed through preliminary round play. The 2004 and 2011 U.S. squads share the record for fewest goals against with four. All three of those teams went on to earning medals, including one gold (2004), one silver (1997) and one bronze (2011) ... Three U.S. players will celebrate birthdays in January, including Scott Eansor (Jan. 3), Alex Nedeljkovic (Jan. 7) and Colin White (Jan. 30).
PREVIOUS QUARTERFINAL GAMES
The playoff format was adopted for the IIHF World Junior Championship beginning in 1996. The U.S. has qualified for the playoffs 18 out of 20 years, including 16 of the last 17 tournaments. From 1977-95, teams played each other once in a round-robin format and medals were awarded based on final standings.
STARS AND STRIPES, EPISODE FOUR
Episode Four of Stars and Stripes, USA Hockey’s all-access video series documenting the journey of the 2016 US. National Junior Team, includes a tour of Team USA’s lockerroom. It can be found at worldjuniors.usahockey.com. Additionally, those interested can use their virtual reality headset or Google Street View for bonus access.
|Date||Opponent||Location||Result||U.S. Player of the Game|
|Sat., Dec. 26||Canada||Helsinki Ice Hall||W, 4-2||Colin White|
|Mon., Dec. 28||Sweden||Helsinki Ice Hall||L, 0-1||Zach Werenski|
|Wed., Dec. 30||Switzerland||Helsinki Ice Hall||W, 10-1||Auston Matthews|
|Thu., Dec. 31||Denmark||Helsinki Ice Hall||W, 4-1||Brandon Carlo|
|Sat., Jan. 2||Czech Republic
|Helsinki Ice Hall||W, 7-0||Nick Schmaltz|
|Mon., Jan. 4||Russia
|Hartwall Arena||L, 1-2||Christian Dvorak|
|Tues. , Jan. 5||Sweden
Bronze Medal Game
|Hartwall Arena||W, 8-3||Anders Bjork|