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Czech Republic Holds Off USA in World Junior Hockey Action

December 29, 1998

BRANDON, Manitoba – The Czech Republic made the key special-team plays and scored the final three goals of the game, including two in the final six minutes, to hand the United States a 6-3 defeat Monday night in continuing round-robin action at the World Junior Hockey Championship.

Notre Dame sophomore left wing Dan Carlson (Edina, Minn.)-who is one of 12 forwards on the USA roster and one of 14 collegians on the 22-player American team-did not factor into any of the USA scoring. The Czech Republic overcame 52 minutes worth of penalties while converting on 3-of-8 power-play chances and adding a shorthanded goal. The USA, which was guilty of 18 penalty minutes, failed to score during any of its 10 power-play chances and was unable to capitalize on a 36-19 shot advantage (additional game notes below). The loss puts a serious damper on the USA hopes to qualify for the tournament’s medal round, which will include the top-three finishes from the two five-team groups (the fourth and fifth-place teams will play in “relegation” rounds). The USA, which opened with a 6-3 loss to defending champion Finland on Saturday, still controls its destiny thanks to having games left with Group A co-leaders Slovakia and Canada (both 1-0-1). The rest of the group includes Finland (1-0-1) and the Czech Republic (1-1-0).

Team USA returns to action on Dec. 30 vs. Slovakia (8:00 p.m. in Selkirk) before the much-anticipated game vs. Canada on Dec. (6:00 p.m. in Winnipeg). The playoff and medal rounds then will follow from Jan. 2-5.

The New Year’s Eve matchup between the USA and Canada will be televised across America, including live 6:00 p.m. eastern time broadcasts by Comcast and Fox Sports New England. Tape-delayed broadcasts of the USA-Canada game will include: Midwest Sports Channel on Jan. 1 at 7:00 p.m. central time; Fox Sports Detroit on Jan. 2 at 4:00 p.m. eastern; and Empire Sports Network on Jan. 7 at 7:00 p.m. eastern. 1977.

Monday’s other Group A game saw Canada hold on for a 6-4 win over Finland, after Canada had opened with a 0-0 tie vs. Slovakia on Sunday. Sweden (3-0-0) is leading Group B, followed by Switzerland and Russia (both 1-1-0) and Belarus and Kazahkstan (both 0-1-1, including their tie on Sunday). Monday’s Group B results saw easy wins for Sweden (5-1 over Switzerland) and Russia (7-0 over Kazahkstan). Tuesday’s schedule includes just two games (Slovakia-Finland and Belarus-Russia) while the other Dec. 30 games are Czech Republic-Canada, Switzerland-Kazahkstan and Sweden-Belarus. The other Dec. 31 games are Finland-Czech Republic, Russia-Switzerland and Kazahkstan-Sweden. Carlson is the third Irish forward to play for the USA junior national team during the past three years. Current Notre Dame juniors Ben Simon and Joe Dusbabek skated on last year’s USA fifth-place team while Simon was a member of the 1997-98 silver-medal-winning team.

The USA opened the scoring at 4:16 of the first period, when University of Wisconsin forward Matthew Doman scored off assists from David Legwand and University of Maine forward William Heisten the Czechs then took the lead on power-play goals from Petr Mika (6:42, assisted by Tomas Divisek) and Martin Lamich (10:19, assisted by Mario Cartelli and Michael Travnicek) Scott Gomez tied the game shortly before the intermission, with University of Minnesota defenseman Jordan Leopold and Boston College right wing Brian Gionta drawing the assists on the 4-on-4 goal (19:09) Mika scored his second goal of the game just 38 seconds into the second period (assisted by Divisek), with one second left on the power play Gomez forged a 3-3 game at the 12:30 mark of the second period, assisted by Gionta and Bowling Green forward Ryan Murphy, but Vaclar Pletka netted what proved to be the game-winner moments later, on an unassisted shorthanded goal (34:51) the game remained 4-3 until Travnicek scored at 53:51 and Divisek fired into the open net with 1:03 left to play Chris Madden made 10 saves for the USA but let in four goals while Michigan State freshman Joe Blackburn made three saves and gave up one goal in his 18-plus minutes of action through the first two games, the USA has totaled two power-play goals in 22:16 worth of power-play time (the sixth-best pct. In the 10-team tournament) the USA ranks ninth in penalty-killing, allowing four opponent PPGs in 19:14 worth of PK time the USA also ranks sixth in shooting pct. (9.68 shots per goal, 62/6) and has averaged 15 penalty minutes per game (fifth-most in the tournament field) Madden has totaled 37 saves and 10 goals allowed in 100 minutes of action.