Photos by Richard Wolowicz (HHOF-IIHF Images).
LAPPEENRANTA, Finland - Alex Nedeljkovic (Parma, Ohio) turned aside all 24 shots he faced as the U.S. Men's National Under-18 Team blanked the Czech Republic, 3-0, here today at Lappeenranta Arena. With the win, Team USA's record improves to 1-0-0-1 (W-OTW-OTL-L) at the 2014 International Ice Hockey Federation Men's Under-18 World Championship.
Auston Matthews (Scottsdale, Ariz.) put Team USA on the board at 8:17 of the first frame. Skating four-on-four, Matthews fired a shot that deflected off a defender's stick and over Czech goalie Vitek Vanecek. Brandon Fortunato (North Hills, N.Y.) and Jack Dougherty (Cottage Grove, Minn.) collected assists on the play. Nedeljkovic was tested early, but stopped all 10 shots he saw in the period.
The U.S. lead doubled 58 seconds into the second stanza when Sonny Milano (Massapequa, N.Y.) pounced on a rebound to the right of the crease. Jack Eichel (North Chelmsford, Mass.) created the opportunity, skating around the net and firing a shot that caromed to Milano's stick. Alex Tuch (Baldwinsville, N.Y.) was credited with a secondary assist. Kyle Connor (Shelby Township, Mich.) extended the U.S. lead to three goals with a wrist shot from the high slot. Joe Wegwerth (Brewster, N.Y.) and Jack Glover (Golden Valley, Minn.) assisted.
Nedeljkovic made five of his 24 total saves in the final frame to preserve the shutout victory. Vanecek blocked 32 shots in the loss for the Czech Republic.
The U.S. Men's National Under-18 Team is right back in action tomorrow (April 20) versus Denmark. The game is scheduled for 11:30 a.m. EDT at Lappeenranta Arena. All U.S. tournament games will be streamed live on FASTHockey free of charge.