HRADEC KRALOVE, Czech Republic - Blake Pietila (Brighton, Mich.) scored a game-winning shorthanded goal midway through the second period, as the U.S. National Under-18 Team topped the Czech Republic, 3-1, here today at Hradec Kralove Arena in its third game of the 2011 Five Nations Tournament.
With the win, Team USA improved to 3-0-0-0, with its final game of the tournament to come against Finland on Sunday (Feb. 13) beginning at 7:30 a.m. EST.
"This was a tough win against a hard-working Czech team," said Ron Rolston, head coach of the U.S. National Under-18 Team. "We found a way to win, and I’m extremely proud of our guys."
Reid Boucher (Grand Ledge, Mich.) opened the scoring for Team USA 8:10 into the first period. Rocco Grimaldi (Rossmoor, Calif.) skated into the offensive zone and fed Boucher who backhanded the puck into the net. The Czech Republic answered with a power-play goal at 9:57 and the two teams remained knotted at one goal each heading into the intermission.
After the Czech Republic tied the game at 1-1 after one period, Team USA took the lead once again midway through the second while shorthanded. Travis Boyd (Hopkins, Minn.) passed to Pietila, who broke in alone on a breakaway, deked to his backhand and deposited the puck behind the Czech goalie Patrik Bartosak.
Nicolas Kerdiles (Irvine, Calif.) gave the U.S. a two-goal cushion when he created a turnover in front of the Czech goal and capitalized with a quick shot.
The U.S. defense and goaltender John Gibson (Pittsburgh, Pa.) stood their ground in the third period to preserve Team USA's 3-1 victory.
(Nathan can be reached at email@example.com)