GRAND FORKS, N.D. – Clayton Keller (Swansea, Ill.) recorded three points (1-2) and Jake Oettinger (Lakeville, Minn.) stopped all 15 shots he faced as the U.S. Men’s National Under-18 Team shut out the Czech Republic, 8-0, here tonight in quarterfinal action at Ralph Engelstad Arena. Team USA will next face Finland in the semifinal round on Saturday (April 23).
“We stuck with what we wanted to do, which was to keep shooting, and we didn’t lose any confidence because we played our game,” said Danton Cole, head coach of the U.S. Men's National Under-18 Team. “The guys did a great job of sticking with it.”
After a scoreless first period, in which the U.S. outshot the Czech Republic, 13-2, Team USA broke the deadlock at the 4:50 mark of the middle frame. Logan Brown (Raleigh, N.C.) launched a shot that was denied, but Casey Mittelstadt (Eden Prairie, Minn.) buried the rebound to stake the U.S. lead, 1-0. Off a faceoff, the United States struck a second time. Trent Frederic (St. Louis, Mo.) received the puck and maneuvered around a defender within the right circle toward the slot. Frederic wristed a shot between the pads of Josef Korenar for the score. Will Lockwood (Bloomfield Hills, Mich.) assisted. A power-play marker pushed the U.S. advantage to three late in the period. Keller started the play and found Kieffer Bellows (Edina, Minn.) to the right of the net. Bellows tried to pull the puck around and got tied up, but the puck found the stick of Joey Anderson (Roseville, Minn.) who knocked the puck home.
Team USA notched its fourth goal just 36 seconds into the third frame. A tic-tac-toe passing play led to a Keller one-time shot that hit the back of the net. Adam Fox (Jericho, N.Y.) and Ryan Lindgren (Minneapolis, Minn.) earned helpers on the score. Graham McPhee (Bethesda, Md.) went top corner for the fifth U.S. goal at 3:40. Fox and J.D. Greenway (Potsdam, N.Y.) collected assists. Thirteen seconds later, Nick Pastujov (Bradenton, Fla.) scored falling down as he swatted at a loose puck to the left of Korenar. Zach Walker (Boise, Idaho) and McPhee registered the helpers. Skating shorthanded midway through the frame, Keller intercepted the puck, made a move off the boards and streaked down the ice. Keller flicked a backhand pass to Anderson who deposited the puck into the net. Lindgren added a late tally when he stepped around a Czech defender and into the shooting lane for a shot that lit the lamp. Pastujov assisted.
The U.S. Men’s Under-18 National Team will next face Finland in the semifinals on Saturday (April 23). Puck drop is slated for 4:00 p.m. ET, and will air live on NHL Network.