Through 120 minutes of action, the U.S. Men’s National Under-18 Team has allowed exactly zero goals. After a 5-0 blanking of host Czech Republic Saturday, Team USA can look back on yet another dominating performance at the 2012 IIHF World Under-18 Championship. Having outscored opponents 9-0 through two, the U.S. continues to head down the right track.
Team USA wasn’t just one goal better than the previous game, the team was better in almost all areas of the game. Getting better with each day in the tournament is important. As the defending champs, the U.S. will always get an opponent’s very best.
Defensively, Team USA was on top of its game once again, but the forwards were also clicking a little more than against Finland. As a result, the U.S. never gave the Czechs a chance. There might not have been one Czech shot from a prime scoring area. Most were from the perimeter, making life easy for Collin Olson, who collected his second shutout in as many games.
Coming up after the jump, a look at the goal scorers and other top performers from Team USA’s 5-0 win over the Czechs.
Nic Kerdiles started off the scoring for Team USA for the second-straight game, converting on a 2-on-1 feed from Danny O’Regan. A good, hard snapper from Kerdiles easily flew past Czech netminder Marek Langhamer to make it 1-0.
Though it drew a video review, Jacob Trouba’s rocket one-timer from the left point gave Team USA the 2-0 advantage. Trouba converted on a nice feed from Seth Jones and just blasted the puck that came off the back bar so fast, referees needed to make sure it didn’t hit the cross bar.
Jones was next, scoring on the power play after a brilliant feed from Ryan Hartman. Jones snapped home a one-time chance with the net wide open. Hartman showed great patience and vision to find Jones through some Czech sticks, which perfectly set up the goal.
Quentin Shore scored his second of the tournament to make it 4-0 after collecting a loose puck and firing it low past Langhamer from just inside the right faceoff circle.
The lone third period goal came off the stick of Ryan Hartman after a great individual effort. Hartman took a good pass from Seth Jones, then turned two defensemen inside out and slipped a low shot through Langhamer’s legs to make it 5-0.
Olson made 17 stops to earn his second straight shutout. He wasn’t tested much, but he made a few nice glove saves and kept everything really simple. Not a bad start to the tournament for goaltender and team when you’re averaging 0.00 goals against.
Other Top Performers
Seth Jones — Jones was named player of the game after his three-point night. Team USA’s captain showed exactly why so many believe he could be one of the first players picked in 2013. Despite his terrific size, Jones has touch and agility not often found in a big man. His confident puck moving and relaxed demeanor in his own zone was certainly on display against the Czechs.
Jacob Trouba — The knock on Trouba coming into this season was that his offensive abilities were a bit behind, but after Saturday’s performance, those that held that belief may be changing their minds. Trouba showed tremendous skating ability and skill through the neutral zone. He was outstanding in his own zone, save for a few uncharacteristic turnovers. Trouba has confidence with the puck and the rest of the team certainly recognizes it.
Nic Kerdiles — It was another strong night from the U.S. forward. Kerdiles scored his second goal of the tournament and looked as though he was always going to be a threat offensively. He also handled himself well enough in the D zone and neutral zone. Kerdiles is quickly becoming an all-around forward.
Danny O’Regan — Despite being the only non-NTDP player on the team, he sure doesn’t look like it. As one of Team USA’s more creative players, offensively, O’Regan found space well and showed off some high-end puck skills. It was another great effort out of this forward. He’s shown good chemistry with linemates Kerdiles and Hartman as well.
Ryan Hartman — One of the players expected to step up offensively for Team USA has so far. With a goal and an assist against the Czechs, Hartman was always an offensive threat in the game. His third period goal was a pretty one, turning the D inside out and putting a well-placed low shot through the goaltender. It looks like Hartman is heating up at the right time.
The U.S. will meet Denmark Sunday. The Danes have struggled so far in the tournament, losing to Canada, 6-1 and the Czech Republic, 8-4. Going up against the vaunted American defense, it’s going to be tough for Denmark to match up with Team USA.
The U.S. meanwhile have tremendous speed that should give Denmark fits. As long as the U.S. doesn’t get caught looking ahead to the Canada game, it should be another one for the win column.
You can watch the Denmark-USA game live on FASTHockey.com at noon ET.