Team USA led 5-3, fall in shootout

GANGWON, South Korea —The U.S. Youth Olympic Men’s Hockey Team fell to Czechia, 6-5, in the shootout in their final preliminary round game of the 2024 Winter Youth Olympic Games at the Gangneung Hockey Centre on Monday.

“It was a disappointing finish to an overall pretty good game,” said Joe Bonnett (Canton, Mich.), head coach of the U.S. Youth Olympic Men’s Team. “The team put themselves in a position in the third period to come away with a win. We’ll put this game behind us and look ahead to the semifinals.”

The U.S. finished second in Group A and will advance to the semifinals on Tuesday (Jan. 30). Puck drop is set for 8 p.m. local (6 a.m. ET). Team USA’s opponent will be determined based on the remaining preliminary-round competition.

Team USA got on the board 5:48 into the first period after Abe Barnett (Glencoe, Ill.) capitalized off a feed from AJ Francisco (Hermantown, Minn.), netting a wrist shot from the high slot.

A few minutes after, Czechia’s Simon Katolicky evened the score at 1-1 with a power-play goal at 8:39 in the opening frame.

The U.S. reclaimed the lead less than a minute later when Mikey Berchild (Excelsior, Minn.) jammed the puck past goaltender Jan Larys. Logan Stuart (Los Angeles, Calif.) opened a 3-1 lead for the U.S. with just one second remaining in the period. With time winding down, Barnett sent the puck deep in the offensive zone for Stuart. He cycled through before driving hard to the net, slipping the puck past Larys.

The U.S. added its fourth goal at 5:45 in the second period. Luke Schairer (Charlotte, N.C.) pulled the puck off the blueline and picked the top corner with a wrist shot after Czechia tried to clear the zone. JP Hurlbert (Allen, Texas) and Berchild picked up helpers on the goal.

Czechia responded with a pair of goals to cut the U.S. lead to 4-3 midway through the second period. Just 1:44 after the Team USA’s fourth tally, Katolicky notched his second goal of the game followed by a power-play goal from Ondrej Ruml at the 10:57 mark.

With 2:42 remaining in the middle frame, Hurlbert weaved through the Czechia’s defense and scored unassisted to put the U.S. ahead 5-3.

Filip Novak tallied two goals in the third, and a strong third period from Czechia saw the game tied at 5-5 at the end of regulation, sending the game to a shootout.

The U.S. fell to Czechia, 6-5, in the seventh round of the shootout. Hurlbert scored in the first round and Gavin Weeks (Manchester, N.H.) stopped five of seven Czech shooters.

Weeks made 13 saves in goal.

NOTES: Team USA outshot Czechia 35-19… Team USA will face the winner of Group B, either Canada or Finland, in the semifinals set for Tues., Jan. 30th.