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U18 Team Notches 5-3 Semifinal Win

08/09/2013, 12:30pm MDT
By USA Hockey

BRECLAV, Czech Republic -- Four different U.S. players scored goals and goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic (Parma, Ohio) made 23 saves to help the U.S. Under-18 Select Team defeat the Czech Republic, 5-3, in the semifinals of the 2013 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament today.

"The guys really dug down deep to get the win," head coach Bob Corkum said. "It was really hot and humid in the arena, but they battled through everything and got the job done when it mattered. Now it's important for them to get rest and fluids with the quick turnaround, and then we'll get ready for tomorrow."

After an early first-period goal gave the Czech Republic a 1-0 lead, Jake Wahlin (St. Paul, Minn.) took a drop pass from Cody Milan (White Lake, Mich.) and placed a shot between Czech goaltender Vic Vanecek and the post to knot the score at 9:49. Then, eight minutes later, Team USA took the lead when Nick Schmaltz (Verona, Wis.) scored on a shot through traffic just after a power play ended to give the U.S. a 2-1 edge at intermission.

The Czech Republic responded with a goal early in the middle frame, but Schmaltz helped the U.S. regain a one-goal advantage two minutes later. As the Czech Republic tried to clear its own zone, Schmaltz intercepted a pass and beat Vanecek for his second goal of the contest.

Ryan Wagner (Park Ridge, Ill.) broke a 3-3 midway through the third period when he got behind the Czech Republic defense and tallied the game-winning goal. Milan added an empty-netter to cap the scoring.

The U.S. will play Canada in tomorrow's championship game at 11:00 a.m. ET in Piestany, Slovakia. It marks the ninth time in Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament history that the U.S. has played for the championship, and is the first appearance for the United States in the title game since 2010.

NOTES: Nick Schmaltz was named U.S. Player of the Game ... Schmaltz leads the tournament in goals (5) and points (8) entering Saturday's championship game ... The championship game vs. Canada will be a rematch of the 2010 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament final ... Follow the 2013 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament on Twitter by following @USAHockeyScores and using #IvanHlinka ... The 2013 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament features teams from Canada, Czech Republic, Finland, Russia, Slovakia, Sweden, Switzerland and the United States ... Team USA has finished in the top three of the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament 10 times since the tournament's inception in 1991, including a first-place finish in 2003. The U.S. has finished second seven times (1993, 1994, 1996, 1999, 2000, 2006, 2010) and third twice (1991, 1995) ... Team USA finished in seventh place last year ... The 22 players on the U.S. roster represent 10 different states. Minnesota leads the way with eight representatives, while Michigan has four and both Illinois and Colorado have two ... Bob Corkum (Salisbury, Mass.) serves as head coach and John Gruden (Virginia, Minn.), assistant coach with USA Hockey's National Team Development Program, Matt Herr (Hackensack, N.J.) a regional manager of USA Hockey's American Development Model, and Derek Plante (Cloquet, Minn.), assistant coach at the University of Minnesota Duluth, serve as assistant coaches.

Game Summary

Scoring By Period 1 2 3 Total
USA    2   1    2     5
CZE    1    2    0    3

First Period -- Scoring: 1, CZE, Zacha (Karabacek), 4:04 (pp); 2, USA, Wahlin (Milan), 9:49; 3, USA, Schmaltz (Dougherty), 18:10. Penalties: USA, Haydon (charging), 3:16; CZE, Zboril (tripping), 16:05.

Second Period -- Scoring: 4, CZE, Vrana (Zboril, Pastrnak), 8:09 (pp); 5, USA, Schmaltz (unassisted), 10:08; 6, CZE, Jacha (Karabacek), 19:20. Penalties: USA, Mantha (delay of game), 2:48; USA, Dougherty (interference), 4:44; CZE, Bench (too many men), 5:36; USA, Haydon (tripping), 6:53; USA, Iverson (slashing), 14:20; USA, Schmaltz (tripping), 16:34.

Third Period -- Scoring: 7, USA, Wagner (unassisted), 8:46; 8, USA, Milan (unassisted), 19:54 (en). Penalties: USA, Nardella (tripping), 1:16.

Shots By Period 1 2 3 Total
USA    18   14  15   47
CZE    10    9    7    26

Goaltenders (SV/SH) 1 2 3 Total
USA, Nedeljkovic 60:00    9/10   7/9      7/7     23/26
CZE, Vanecek 58:40    16/18    13/14    13/14    42/46


Power Play: USA, 0-2; CZE, 2-7
Penalties: USA, 7-14; CZE, 2-4

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USA Hockey: What was it like to be a part of the U22 and U18 Select Series’

Melissa Szkola: The experience was wonderful. It was fantastic. We’ve essentially got the two best teams in the world competing against each other, so the learning experience, working with the officials that we have, is always amazing. You leave here a better person, a better official; that’s what we’re here for. That’s what I look forward to the most at these big-time events: the level of hockey and what you get out of it as a whole.

USAH: How did you first get into officiating?

Szkola: It’s been nine years since I got my start. I was a competitive figure skater and my older brother played hockey, so I’ve always been around the game, but it was my husband who actually got me into the officiating side of it. When we started dating, he was a roller and ice hockey official. He asked me to come with one time and I said ‘okay.’ That’s how I got started. It’s something he and I have in common and he is my biggest supporter. I wouldn’t be here without him.

USAH: So nine years under your belt, how would you describe some of your past IIHF events?

Szkola: I’ve had a handful of experiences with international tournaments. Each one has brought a new set of skills to my plate. You learn a lot about yourself and you learn a lot from your supervisors from different countries as well. To get out and work with other female officials and learn from them and your supervisors is amazing.

Being in another country, where sometimes there aren’t people who even speak English, is a really unique experience as well. The communication that you learn to speak with non-English speaking officials really makes you appreciate what you have in common – hockey.

USAH: How did the Select Series compare to those events?

Szkola: The level of play, it’s definitely much higher at the Select Series than any of the championships that I’ve been to. I wouldn’t say that the intensity is much different, because at each level they are competing for their highest achievement. The intensity is the same, the importance is the same, but the level of play is definitely much better; it’s faster, it’s crisper. Your awareness just has to be that much higher.

USAH: Did calling a game with high-caliber players like those at the Select Series shake up any nerves?

Szkola: I’ll be honest, I was a little nervous before we got on the ice. I’ve watched Team USA and Team Canada compete before, so you know the level at which they intend to play. Being out there with it, you just know where the emotions can go sometimes. It was a little nerve-wracking before the start, but as soon as that puck drops, you have a job to do. USA Hockey does a fantastic job developing us; I feel like they wouldn’t put you out there if you weren’t ready. Once that puck drops, you’re kind of at home.

USAH: What’s next for your officiating future?

Szkola: The support that I have, not only from my hometown in Michigan, but also the support and development USA Hockey has given really sets you up for success if you want to take it in that direction. That is my goal. I do want to skate in the Olympics. Moving forward I am going to continue to improve upon each experience that I have, because you can always be better. Mistakes do get made, so you learn from those and improve yourself. 

Tag(s): Hlinka Memorial Cup