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.
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
For the last 15 years, Ian Walsh has crisscrossed the United States as an NHL official. In this Part 2 of our conversation with Walsh, the 42-year-old Philadelphia native fielded a series of questions discussing life on the road, his conditioning schedule, mentors, on-ice struggles, the evolution of the game and advice for aspiring officials.
USA Hockey: How do you think you've been able to maintain all of the officiating success you've had over the last 15 years?
Ian Walsh: I believe one of my strengths as an official is my work ethic. I come to the rink every night ready to work hard and give 100 percent. I also believe I am very coachable, and when I'm offered a suggestion for improvement, I try very hard to implement that advice into my game.
USAH: What is your conditioning schedule like during the NHL season? How about during the off-season?
Walsh: During the season, conditioning work is more about maintaining what you built up over the summer. The workouts aren't as intense but you must continue to take good care of your body. Game-day workouts usually include a 30-minute bike ride or a couple miles run at the hotel gym. I also like to do some core work and light strength training on top of that.
The weather in Portland is amazing in the summer, and I prefer to be outside and on my road bike. I usually get in about four days a week of riding outdoors to help build my endurance and strength. I try to play hockey a few days a week as well to help work on my skating.
USAH: When did you realize you finally had cemented your career as an official? What was that feeling like?
Walsh: I don't know if you ever get that feeling. Every night is a different challenge in our league. It is a hard, hard league to officiate. The scrutiny of every call, every goal, ever non-call is such a challenge for all of us. The best players and coaches in the world expect us to perform at such a high level every night, and we have to be ready for anything that comes our way. It’s a privilege to be on the ice in the NHL, and I think that is something no official takes for granted.
USAH: What has been your biggest accomplishment to date as an official?
Walsh: Being chosen to participate in four Stanley Cup playoffs is what I'm most proud of. It’s an incredible honor to be selected and that’s the goal for every official each year. Also, being part of the team that was chosen to represent the NHL at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics was a phenomenal experience and a great opportunity.
USAH: What has been the biggest hurdle/obstacle you've had to overcome in your officiating career?
Walsh: I’ve been lucky so far, knock on wood, that I haven’t had any serious injuries. Other than some bumps and bruises, I’ve been relatively injury-free in my career. The biggest challenge is to be able to bounce back from calls you made that aren't correct. In this day and age, we usually know within minutes after the game if we made a wrong decision. When you make a call that impacts the game, it’s hard on the mind. Unfortunately, we make mistakes and what most people don't understand is that nobody takes it harder than the official making that mistake. Being able to bounce back from a mistake is something all officials must learn to do.
USAH: Who has had the most impact on your officiating career over the past 15 years? What has that person or those people taught you?
Walsh: Nobody has helped me more over my NHL career than fellow referee Paul Devorski. I've worked a lot of games with Paul and we’ve had the opportunity to travel together on the road. As an elite, veteran referee, he has been able to pass down some of his knowledge to me to help me become a better official. Paul is retiring this year, and our staff will sorely miss him.
USAH: How has the game changed, besides speed, since you started in the early 2000s?
Walsh: I would say the biggest change besides the speed of the game would be the use of technology. It is amazing what you see at rink – teams have iPads on the bench, super slo-motion video replays, hi-def video scoreboards, etc. With all that technology, it makes the officials job appear easy. People forget that the official on the ice sees a play one time, in real time, and must make a split-second decision on that play. It often appears quite different when you see a replay in super slo-mo on hi-def after a game.
USAH: What advice can you give aspiring NHL/professional league officials as they progress in their career?
Walsh: I would say make sure you have a backup plan. Making it to the NHL is everyone’s goal, but there are very few jobs available. There are so many factors that go into hiring an official and a lot of those are out of your control. Go and work the highest level available to you. Don't worry about other officials, if you are good enough, the NHL will find you. Also, control what you can control – always work on your skating, know your rules and come to the rink every night with a strong work ethic and a great attitude.
Tag(s): Hlinka Memorial Cup