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2021 World Juniors USA vs. Czech Republic recap & highlights: Caufield and Team USA are finding their groove

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Trevor Zegras adds to his points haul in a 7-0 victory.

United States v Czech Republic: Preliminary Round Group B - 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship Photo by Codie McLachlan/Getty Images

One of the more fascinating games for everyone interested in Montreal Canadiens draft picks, a Czech team led by Jan Mysak, brimming with confidence after an impressive win against Russia, would face off against Cole Caufield’s Team USA. United States came back and demolished Austria with double digits after losing to the Russians in the opener. Would the Czech Republic be able to maintain their strong defensive showing against the powerful American offence?

Well, originally that was definitely the case. By controlling the neutral zone with their trap-style defence, the Czechs stopped USA before they could even get into the dangerous areas around goalie Lukas Parik. The first period ended goalless, meaning that the Europeans had gone four period against two of the group’s heavyweights without letting in a single goal, an impressive feat for a lesser roster.

Just before the American fans started to bite their nails in fear of possibly facing the same fate as their antagonists from Russia, Bobby Brink decided that enough was enough. Instead of waiting to see if Brett Berard’s second effort would indeed cross the line, the small forward reached out his stick to give the puck a little help on the way.

Once the first goal was home, Czech Republic had to change their tactics and play a more open defensive game, something which benefitted their skilled opponents.

Trevor Zegras doubled the lead after a cross-ice pass from Henry Thrun which fooled the entire Czech team.

Before the period ended, Brink got his second of the night in much the same way as he got his first, by being a small but significant pest inside the crease. Gritty and his Philadelphia Flyers will sure be enamored by efforts and lower body strength.

It was a different Czech team which came out in the third period. Knowing that the game was all but lost, the feist shown in the first period was just not there anymore. Zegras got his second of the night and fifth of the tournament with a significantly more powerful slapper than he displayed with his previous goal.

All fun and games for the United States team at that point, but there were still questions to be answered. What about their two best goalscoring prospects? When would Caufield and Arthur Kaliyev start contributing in the points column?

With eleven-and-a-half minutes to go, playing on the powerplay following a tripping penalty on young David Jiricek, Cam York served Kaliyev to the left. The latter took a few strides forward and sniped the puck high in the near corner on a stated Parik.

Great! Only one question remaining then.

Two minutes later, playing five-on-four once again, the Wisconsin Badgers’ favourite smiling assassin broke through and entered the offensive zone alone on the right, having only Parik to beat. You could see the determination in the eyes of Cole Caufield as he, with a resolute wrister, got his first goal as well. His smile as he was congratulated by his teammates is one for the books.

Caufield would eventually also contribute with a helper to his linemate Matthew Boldy before the Americans decided they were done for the day. Boldy’s finish was that type of filthy display you can try when you’re already up 6-0 late in the third period.

Next up, Team USA will go on to face Sweden in a potentially intense game on New Year’s Eve while the Czech Republic will have to heal their wounds against Austria earlier that same day.