The Americans got exactly the start they wanted and with a bit of luck jumped into a 1-0 at 12:03. A simple clear-in bounced off the sideboards the wrong way and the puck came out through the face-off spot instead of rolling behind the net where goalkeeper Tomas Suchanek was.
Matt Coronato got to the puck first and fired quickly, but Suchanek ducked back to get his stick on the puck. However, it came right at Logan Cooley and he shot it into the open net for his second goal of the tournament.
The Czechs, however, were unlucky not to score first, as Tomas Urban hit the post hard.
The US continued to bring the puck to their opponents, but the Czechs did not panic and played disciplined hockey within their own line. They didn’t test Mbereko much, but right at 5:55 PM. The game started in the corner when Kulich won a puck fight back to the point. Jiri Tichacek’s long shot was expertly tipped off by captain Jan Mysak, making it a 1-1 match.
It was the Czechs who came out and dominated the second period, a period when the Americans looked decidedly lost and unusually flat. Suchanek was solid but didn’t get tested often and the Czechs had far more chances than the two goals they scored.
They first took a lead at 7:34 on an easy game. Petr Hauser made a small side pass to Ivan Ivan, and he was allowed to walk into the face-off circle where he fired a vicious shot off the far post and into it. They filled their lead three minutes later on a bad blunder by Mbereko. Matyas Sapovaliv’s routine shot slipped through the goalkeeper’s tackle and dribbled across the line, boosting confidence in the Czech Republic and further deteriorating mood in the US.
In the third, things went from bad to worse. Less than three minutes in, Brett Berard was rated five and a play for a slew foot. But the Americans skilfully finished it off and then got a five-minute power play of their own when Svozil Colley nailed the Czech Republic’s blue line with a knee-to-knee hit.
Sure enough, the US cashed in a fight up front, Carter Mazur lifted the puck at 11:31 over an outstretched Suchanek to make it a one-goal game. But the Czech Republic managed to contain the damage to that one goal, thanks to Suchanek, who robbed Mazur from close range moments later.
Mbereko went to the bench with 1:40 to go and a faceoff in the Czech Republic, but thanks to a giveaway, Kulich was able to steal the puck and score an empty netter to seal the win.
#IIHF #Czechs #stun #advance #semifinals