USA to play Canada in semifinal
John Gaudreau notched a hat-trick on the powerplay, and the Americans went 5-for-13 with the man advantage as they defeated the Czech Republic 7-0 in quarterfinal action at the World Junior Hockey Championships.
After a slow-paced 1st period in which 9 penalties interrupted the flow, the Americans blew the game wide open after the puck dropped to begin the 2nd. The Americans started the period on the powerplay, and Gaudreau fired home his second powerplay goal of the game to put the US up 2-0. 40 seconds later, Ryan Hartman banged home a rebound off of a Jacob Trouba shot to make it 3-0.
Riley Barber also had a multi-goal game, both of his markers coming within 4 minutes of eachother midway through the 2nd period. Gaudreau would top off the Americans' 5-goal 2nd period outburst with his 5th goal of the tournament, and his 3rd of the game.
Forward J.T. Miller would cap off the scoring at the 4:08 mark of the third period with his 2nd goal of the tournament, and the Americans' 5th powerplay goal of the game.
The Czechs did have their opportunities, but goaltender John Gibson was equal to the task, making 31 saves to preserve the shutout for the Americans.
Penalties and special teams were the main themes in this game, as the teams combined for a total of 64 penalty minutes -- 44 of which were earned by the Czechs, including a Game Misconduct to Martin Frk midway through the 3rd period for his deliberate slash on Ryan Hartman.
The US penalty kill was perfect, and remains the top unit in the tournament, killing off all 6 powerplay opportunities for the Czechs.
With the win, the United States will now square off against Canada on Thursday in what should be a very physical and entertaining semi-final matchup. In their round robin matchup, Gibson and Canadian goaltender Malcolm Subban went save-for-save, with Subban emerging victorious in a 2-1 Canada win.