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Quarterfinals Preview: Team USA vs. Czech Republic

01/01/2013, 9:45am EST
By USAHockey.com

Team USA continue pursuit of gold medal with Czechs standing in the way.

The U.S. National Junior Team earned a spot in the 2013 IIHF World Junior Championship quarterfinals with a win over Slovakia, but now faces Czech Republic on Wednesday at 4 a.m. ET.

The Americans struggled to score goals against Russia and Canada, but regained the offense against Slovakia with a 9-3 victory on Monday. If the team is to reach the semifinals it will need to keep that momentum against a Czech goaltender who has been very stingy this tournament.

Patrik Bartosak leads the Czech Republic in goal and has a 1.98 goals against average. He's seen 79 shots in three games and made 73 saves. The Americans have amassed 165 shots on goal in the tournament and will be sure to test Bartosak.

The Czech Republic has spread the offense around its lineup. Dmitrij Jaskin leads the team with five points (two goals, three assists), and overall 14 separate playes have registered points.

Team USA ranks third in the tournament in scoring efficiency and might look to special teams to crack the Czech defense and open the game. The Czechs have not been penalized often, they are 9th in penalty minutes, but when they are short handed they have struggled. On the penalty kill, Czech Republic has a 72% success rate and the American power play is scoring 29% of its chances.

The U.S. is the most penalized team in the tournament, but also has the best penalty kill percentage at 88%. Czech Republic has only three power play goals on 18 chances.

Team USA took Tuesday off to recover from back to back games, but did travel to the arena for a team photo (Video). Head coach Phil Housley has swapped defensive pairs and line combinations before and during the Slovakia game. He and his staff have spent time scouting Czech Republic to find the matchups that will give the U.S. its best chance to return to the semifinals for the first time since 2011.

After nine goals against Slovakia, the U.S. has points from all but one player. Alex Galchenyuk leads the way with seven points (two goals, five assists) and Jacob Trouba has four goals for the team lead in that category.

Goaltending has been perhaps the teams best position so far. John Gibson has a 1.93 goals against average and has 103 saves on 110 shots faced. Given the number of penalty kill situations faced, Gibson has been everything coaches hoped for and then some.

The winner of Wednesday's game will advance to play Canada, which won Group B, in the semifinals on Thursday.

Wednesday's game will be aired live at 4 a.m. ET on NHL Network-U.S. USAHockey.com will also run a live game blog where fans can join the conversation to discuss the game.

Game Results & Links

Date Opponent Results Links/Info
Dec. 20 Sweden (Exhib.) W, 3-2 OT Photos
Dec. 22 Finland (Exhib.) L, 1-5 Photos
Dec. 27 Germany W, 8-0 Photos
Dec. 28 Russia L, 1-2 Photos
Dec. 30 Canada L, 1-2 Photos
Dec. 31 Slovakia W, 9-3 Photos
Jan. 2 Czech Republic
W, 7-0 Photos
Jan. 3 Canada
W, 5-1 Photos
Jan. 5 Sweden
Gold Medal Game
W, 3-1 Photos

Other Media Resources

Dublin buddies to share another stage as NHL draft picks (Jan. 4)
Whitehall's Gibson leads Team USA past Canada (Jan. 4)
Momentum trumping rest for resurgent Americans (Jan. 4)
One-on-one with Alex Galchenyuk (Jan. 3) 
Fast start delivers Americans shot at gold (Jan. 3)
McCabe leads rousing win over Canada (Jan. 3)
Miller, Team USA ruling the world (Jan. 3)
Barber, Kuraly making Miami history (Jan. 3)
Trocheck, Pittsburgh kids hungry for Canada (Jan. 2)
One-on-One with Seth Jones (Jan. 2)
One-on-One with John Gaudreau (Jan. 2)
United States ready for rematch against Canada (Jan. 2)
USA hitting stride just in time for semis (Jan. 2)
Reilly outgrew worries about size (Jan. 2)
Offensive outburst carries USA into WJC semifinals (Jan. 2)
Discipline, forecheck winning formula for U.S. (Jan. 1)
Seth Jones: Greetings from Ufa (Jan. 1)
USA to rely on stingy defense in quarterfinal (Jan. 1)
Gostisbehere opening eyes at World Junior Championship (Dec. 31)
Nothing Settled on Final Day of Prelim Round (Dec. 31)
Setting the Stage for U.S. vs Canada (Dec. 30)
USA Faces 'Very Special' Canada (Dec. 30)
What it All Means for U.S., Canada after Two Games (Dec. 30)
USA vs. Canada Sparks Old Rivalry (Dec. 29)
Tyler Biggs Has Roots in Football (Dec. 29)
U.S. Aims to Bounce Back (Dec. 28)
Phil Housley guides strong Team USA (Dec. 28)
Flyers pick, Gostisbehere, scores in U.S. rout of Germany (Dec. 28)
Rangers prospect, Miller, scores for U.S. in win vs. Germany (Dec. 28)
Western PA hockey stars pace Team USA to opening win (Dec. 27)
Galchenyuk decidedly American (Dec. 27)
U.S. needs puck support, short memories (Dec. 27)
U.S. routs Germany 8-0 in WJC opener (Dec. 27)
Team USA harmonic under Phil (Dec. 26)
Vesey develops his game by playing for Team USA (Dec. 26)
Pietila trades GLI for USA (Dec. 26)
Vesey, Grzelcyk come full circle with Team USA in Ufa (Dec. 24)
Team USA and their not-so-typical dads (Dec. 23)
Seth Jones Hopes to Lead Team USA Back to Prominence (Dec. 21)
Seth Jones a Rising Hockey Star Has NBA DNA (Dec. 20)
Team USA's Big Scores Come in Small Sizes (Dec. 20)
Galchenyuk on a Roll Heading into World Junior Play (Dec. 20)
Team USA's World Juniors cofidence comes from their defense (Dec. 18)
Jones Ready for Break-Out Performance at First WJC (Dec. 18)
Grimaldi Seeks Big Role on Team USA (Dec. 18)
Vital Facts About U.S. National Junior Team (Dec. 18)
USA's Gaudreau Chases the Hobey Baker (Dec. 18)
Miler looks to lead Team USA (Dec. 17)
Jones Read to be Key Contributor (Dec. 17) 
Housley Wants U.S. to Find Chemistry before WJC (Dec. 17) 
Connor Murphy Healthy and Happy (Dec. 16) 
Galchenyuk Could Be U.S. Star at WJC (Dec. 16) 
Coach Housley on Minnesota Wild PONDcast (Dec. 5)
Housley Coaching Podcast (Dec. 5)
GM Jim Johannson CBC's Hockey Night in Canada Radio (Dec. 5) 
Coach Phil Housley on NHL Network's Hockey This Morning (Dec. 5) 
GM Jim Johannson on NHL Network's Power Play (Dec. 4)  
Ability to adapt important asset for Bardreau (Dec. 4)  
First-round picks dot U.S. selection camp roster (Dec. 4) 
UND's Grimaldi on World Juniors roster (Dec. 4) 
Union's Gostisbehere makes Team USA preliminary roster (Dec. 4) 
Jets prospect Trouba ready to take on the world (Dec. 4) 
World Juniors Rewind: Ryan Bourque Reflects on Gold Medal (Dec. 3) 
Seth Jones an NHL icon in waiting (Nov. 28)  
Coach Phil Housley with Edmonton Team1260's Jason Strudwick (Nov. 28) 

Wish Team USA Good Luck

Tag(s): News