CZECHS EDGE U.S., TAKE SEVENTH AT U17 CHALLENGE
JASON LA ROSE
QUISPAMSIS, N.B. – Nick Malik made 38 saves and Jan Mysak provided the offence, scoring the game-winning goal and adding an assist to lead the Czech Republic to a 2-1 win over the United States in the seventh-place game Friday at the 2018 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge.
The win is the first of the tournament for the Czechs, and just the second in 10 all-time meetings with the U.S.
For 40 minutes, it was all about the goaltenders; Malik and American counterpart Drew Commesso kept the game scoreless for two periods, combining to stop all 41 shots sent their way.
The Czechs finally broke through on the power play early in the third period when Michal Gut finished a tic-tac-toe set-up from Mysak and Ondrej Balaz for the 1-0 goal.
Mysak added the eventual game-winner with just over four minutes to go, splitting the American defence at the blue-line and going over the glove of Commesso.
Matthew Beniers got one back for the U.S. on the power play at 18:54 of the third, getting his stick on a Jake Sanderson point shot, but Malik – who made 17 stops in the final frame – and the Czech defence weathered the late storm to secure the win.
The Americans, who claimed the medal a year ago in Dawson Creek, B.C., are the second-straight defending champion to finish at the bottom of the standings; Sweden went from first to worst in 2017.