Team USA dominates Czech Republic 5-1

Francois Laplante

The reigning world junior champions faced the Czech Republic on the opening day of the WJC and proved they're viable contenders this year.

It wouldn't take long for Team USA to get on the board as Riley Barber would streak into the offensive zone on the power play and backhand the puck an awful angle that just squeaked through Daniel Dolesj just 1:21 into the game. 41 seconds later Will Butcher would sneak in the back door and put home a perfect pass from Jack Eichel that gave the US a very early 2-0 lead. If not for Dolesj making some massive saves the Czech squad could have been down 2 to 3 more goals before the first frame ended.

The second period would be a mirror image of the first for the Americans as their speed and forechecking presence overwhelmed the Czech side and this would lead to 2 more US goals the first to Hudson Fasching who put home an Andrew Copp rebound and the second to Jacob Slavin tapped in a Quentin Shore rebound on the goal mouth. The third period would be highlighted by Vince Hinostroza taking a beautiful feed from his Notre Dame teammate Thomas Di Pauli and who stick handled Dolesj into the ice before backhanding it into the net to make it 5-1 Team USA.

Jon Gillies stopped 23 of 24 shots in the game and was very composed even when facing multiple chances on the Czech powerplay. The key to this game was how fast the Americans were on the ice as their speed lead to the first two penalties of the game and the resulting 2 powerplay goals less than 3 minutes into the game. Chris Peters noted that the line of Stefan Matteau, Andrew Copp and Hudson Fasching was the "go to line" for Team USA today and given te chances they created I would have to agree.

Shots were 33-24 for the Americans Copp lead the team with 6 SOG followed by Matt Grzelcyk who had 4 SOG.

Next up for the Americans is Slovakia and Habs prospect Martin Reway this Saturday at 7:30 am.

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