LASALLE, Ont. - Evan Allen (Sterling Heights, Mich.) and J.T. Compher (Northbrook, Ill.) netted two goals each, as the U.S. National Under-17 Team defeated the Czech Republic, 5-1, at the 2012 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge opener here tonight at the Vollmer Culture and Recreation Complex.
"The team benefited from a strong start tonight," said Don Granato, head coach of the U.S. National Under-17 Team. "We hope to build off this win and expect a tough battle tomorrow with Russia."
Team USA cashed in on its first power-play opportunity at 2:49 of the first frame when Compher wristed a shot into the net. Will Butcher (Sun Prairie, Wis.) found Compher open at the top of the left faceoff circle for the score. Anthony Louis (Winfield, Ill.) also collected an assist on the play. The U.S. doubled its lead when Allen knocked in a feed from Butcher in front of the net. John Hayden (Greenwich, Conn.) created space in the slot before finding Butcher to the left of the goaltender, leaving Allen open for the tally.
Compher flicked in a rebound off a shot from Hudson Fasching (Burnsville, Minn.) that snuck over the shoulder of Czech netminder Rene Svoboda for Team USA's third score on the night. Before time expired in the frame and while the U.S. was on the power play, Steven Santini (Mahopac, N.Y.) threw a shot on net that trickled past Svoboda, giving the U.S. a 4-0 lead after one period of action. Keaton Thompson (Devils Lake, N.D.) and Tyler Kelleher (Longmeadow, Mass.) registered assists on the goal.
Neither team was able to light the lamp in the second period, despite 16 shots on net by Team USA. Thatcher Demko (San Diego, Calif.) entered the game and stopped all six Czech Republic shots he faced in the second period. Hunter Miska (North Branch, Minn.) started in goal and played the first 20 minutes, making eight saves in the opening period.
Allen notched his second tally of the night when he broke free from the Czech defense and beat Svoboda with a deke. Dawson Cook (Cadillac, Mich.) delivered the pass that sprung Allen and earned the lone assist. The Czech Republic found the scoresheet at 17:26 of the third frame, but Team USA skated away with a 5-1 victory.
The U.S. National Under-17 Team will continue tournament play against Russia on Friday (Dec. 30) at 2 p.m. EST. The game will be held at the WFCU Centre in Windsor, Ont.
(Nathan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)