Goaltender Ben Kraws (Cranbury, N.J.) made 14 saves and Curtis Hall (Chagrin Falls, Ohio) scored what proved to be a decisive power-play goal as the United States Under-18 Men’s Select Team topped Switzerland 2-1 Tuesday to earn its first victory at the 2017 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Cup in Breclav, Czech Republic.
With the win, Team USA evened its tournament record at 1-1 and remained in championship contention, while Switzerland fell to 0-2 in Group A.
“I thought the guys played really well,” said U.S. head coach Clark Donatelli. “We had a game plan going in and the guys executed our system. It was a good test for our guys.”
The U.S. continued its penchant for scoring first, with captain Jack Drury (Winnetka, Ill.) zipping a wrist shot from just inside the blue line through a screen and past Swiss goalie Akira Schmid at 1:09 of the first period. Switzerland tied the score late in the period, converting a 2-on-1 down low seconds after the conclusion of an American penalty.
The score remained tied until late in the second period thanks in part to Kraws, who denied Switzerland’s Mathieu Vouillamoz with a brilliant glove save 12 minutes into the stanza that energized Team USA. Switzerland took consecutive penalties with the U.S. pressing, which led to Hall’s game-winner at 17:27, a power-play tap-in at the left post courtesy of a nifty toe-drag from Jacob Semik (Canton, Mich.) and Philippe Lapointe’s (Burr Ridge, Ill.) determined effort to shove the puck past Schmid.
Skating with a third-period lead, the U.S. successfully killed a pair of penalties and then weathered a Swiss charge with the extra attacker in the game’s final 1:17, culminating with Drury decisively winning a defensive-zone faceoff to extinguish the final seconds.
“We had good structure in the defensive zone and our (penalty) kill was good,” said Donatelli. “As a whole, we got better today and we’re looking forward to Wednesday’s game.”
Team USA (1-1) will meet the Czech Republic (1-1) tomorrow at 7 p.m. local time / 1 p.m. Eastern Time in the teams’ final game of pool play. That game will be live streamed here. The winner of that game will secure second place in Group A and a spot in Friday's semifinals. The loser will be eliminated from championship contention.
Follow the U.S. Under-18 Men’s Select Team every step of the way at TeamUSA.USAHockey.com.
Notes: The U.S. outshot Switzerland 30-15 … Team USA was 1-for-6 on the power play and 4-for-4 on the penalty kill … Drury was named the U.S. Player of the Game.