PARDUBICE, Czech Republic - Matt White (Whittier, Calif.) notched a hat trick, including the game-winning goal with just 1:42 to play in the contest, and Tyler Spezia (Clinton Township, Mich.) had a goal and three assists to help the U.S. National Inline Team defeat Czech Republic, 5-4, in its second preliminary-round game of the 2014 International Ice Hockey Federation Inline Hockey World Championship here today.
“That was a big win for us and we’re very happy with the outcome,” said head coach Joe Cook. “The team responded well to the rallies of the Czechs and showed a lot of character to create the game-winning goal late in the game. Obviously we want to work on a couple things, but overall our game has been solid.”
With the Czechs riding a wave of momentum after tying the game late in the fourth quarter, White found a soft spot in the Czech Republic's defensive coverage and one-timed a pass from Spezia to the back of the net to put Team USA up for good.
The tightly contested first quarter yielded no scoring either way, but the U.S. was able to build a two-goal lead late in the second stanza after a pair of goals by White. Team USA opened the scoring at 6:37 of the quarter when White drove down the left side, made his was around a Czech defender and slipped a shot between Czech Republic goaltender Dusan Salficky and the left post. Then, just three minutes later, White struck again, this time off a two-on-one, to double the U.S. lead. After picking the puck up in the middle of the rink, White carried it through the right size of the offensive zone, created a screen with the Czech defender and fired a shot through Salficky’s legs.
The Czechs pulled to within one in the final minute of the first half and then knotted the score at 2-2 just 16 seconds into the third quarter, but Team USA answered with back-to-back tallies to retake a two-goal edge. Spezia pulled the U.S. ahead, 3-2, with a wrister from the right dot at 1:22 before Pat Lee (Schaumburg, Ill.) send a well-placed shot through traffic on a power play at 3:26 to make it 4-2.
The Czechs cut the advantage to 4-3 with a power-play goal 6:30 to play in the fourth quarter and then tied the score one minute later.
John Kuhn (Southgate, Mich.) started for the U.S. in goal and turned aside 21 shots in the victory.
The U.S. National Inline Team concludes its preliminary-round schedule tomorrow (June 3) against Slovakia at 2 p.m. ET.