BONNYVILLE, Alberta – The United States Junior Select Team picked up their first win of the 2018 World Junior A Challenge on Tuesday night when they defeated the Czech Republic, 4-2, at R.J. Lalonde Arena.
Trevor Janicke (Maple Grove, Minn.) had a pair of goals with Connor Caponi (Brookfield, Wis.) assisting on both of his tallies. Ryan O'Reilly (Southlake, Texas) had two points, including the empty net goal to seal the victory for the U.S.
“Tonight was a good bounce back for our guys,” Anthony Noreen, U.S. Junior Select Team head coach said. “We felt there was growth throughout our lineup and it was good to see some guys step up. We will have to take another step and be better tomorrow.”
The U.S. Junior Select Team (1-0-1-0/W-OTW-OTL-L) will continue preliminary round play tomorrow (Dec. 12) when they face off against Canada East. The U.S. defeated Canada East, 3-1, in an exhibition contest Dec. 7. Wednesday’s tilt is slated for 2 p.m. local time/4 p.m. ET, with the game streamed live on HockeyTV.
The U.S. got off to a fast and physical start, but were unable to score in the first 20 minutes despite two power plays. The line of Bobby Brink (Minnetonka, Minn.), Robert Mastrosimone (East Islip, N.Y.) and Matt Brown (Wood-Ridge, N.J.) were a dangerous trio, generating several chances as the U.S. jumped out to a 12-8 shot advantage.
Czech forward Dominik Sklenar took a slashing penalty with 13 seconds remaining in the first period, with the U.S. taking advantage of it following the intermission.
The U.S. capitalized on the power play 1:27 into the second period, when Parker Ford (Wakefield, R.I.) put home a pass from Brink at the front of the Czech goal, giving his team a 1-0 lead. Brown picked up an assist on the play.
The U.S. went down a man after a tripping penalty called on Cal Kiefiuk (Macomb, Mich.) six minutes into the middle stanza. Goaltender Blake Pietila (Howell, Mich.) made a few saves while shorthanded to hold the lead before the U.S. began to solve Czech netminder Daniel Dvorak.
Pietila finished with 32 saves for the U.S., while Dvorak turned aside 31 shots.
The U.S. extended their lead with 3:51 remaining in the second period when Janicke, entering the zone with speed, took a feed from Caponi and placed a shot over the shoulder of Dvorak. Defenseman Ronnie Attard (White Lake, Mich.) also picked up an assist on the play.
Janicke added another goal with 1:11 remaining in the middle frame when he came from behind the net off a cycling play and threw the puck towards the goal. O’Reilly and Caponi picked up the assists on the marker that pushed the U.S. to a 3-0 lead.
The U.S. got into penalty trouble halfway into the third period when Mastrosimone received a double minor for high-sticking, followed by Brink being called for a tripping infraction two minutes later.
Armed with a two minute 5-on-3, the Czechs tallied off the ensuing face-off with 8:19 remaining in the final frame. Matej Blumel let go a shot from the right point that deflected of Jan Kern and in for the power-play goal.
Kern scored on the 5-on-4 advantage with 6:56 remaining off a similar sequence. Kern pounced on a rebound off a Blumel point shot to shrink the U.S. lead to one goal.
O'Reilly padded the lead with an empty net goal with 2:28 remaining in the period to push the U.S. up, 4-2. O'Reilly fought off several Czechs to maintain possession of the puck while entering the zone before firing the puck into the yearning cage.
Janicke (2G, 0A), O'Reilly (1G, 1A) and Caponi (0G, 2A) each had multi-point performances, while five other Americans registered a point in the contest.
NOTES: The U.S. outshot the Czech Republic, 35-34 ... Janicke was named the U.S. Player of the Game ... The U.S. went 1-for-4 on the power play and killed off one of their three penalties ... Click here for complete game statistics from tonight's game ...The World Junior A Challenge is in its 13th year, and the U.S. is competing for the 12th time ... The U.S. is competing against Canada East, Canada West, the Czech Republic and Russia in this year's tournament ... Team USA has captured the World Junior A Challenge title seven times (2008-10, 2012-14, 2016).
|Date||Opponent||Venue||Location||Time (Local/ET)/Result||Streaming Coverage|
|Fri., Dec. 7||Canada East*||Cold Lake Energy Centre||Cold Lake, Alta.||W, 3-1||HockeyTV|
|Sun., Dec. 9||Canada West||R.J. Lalonde Arena||Bonnyville, Alta.||SOL, 1-2||HockeyTV|
|Tues., Dec. 11||Czech Republic||R.J. Lalonde Arena||Bonnyville, Alta.||W, 4-2||HockeyTV|
|Wed., Dec. 12||Canada East||R.J. Lalonde Arena||Bonnyville, Alta.||W, 7-3||HockeyTV|
|Fri., Dec. 14||Russia||R.J. Lalonde Arena||Bonnyville, Alta.||L, 3-4||HockeyTV|
|Sat., Dec. 15||Canada West (Semifinal)||R.J. Lalonde Arena||Bonnyville, Alta.||OTW, 3-2||HockeyTV|
|Sun., Dec. 16||Russia (Championship)||R.J. Lalonde Arena||Bonnyville, Alta.||W, 2-0||--|