DMITROV, Russia - Brandon Fortunato (North Hills, N.Y.) scored the eventual game-winning goal and Edwin Minney (Wind Gap, Pa.) made 20 saves as the U.S. National Under-18 Team edged the Czech Republic, 3-2, here today at Dmitrov Arena. With the victory, Team USA concludes tournament play with a perfect 4-0-0-0 (W-OTW-OTL-L) record and captures first place at the 2014 Under-18 Five Nations Tournament.
Joe Wegwerth (Brewster, N.Y.) put the Czechs on notice at 4:15 of the opening period. Shane Gersich (Chaska, Minn.) and Nolan Stevens (Manhattan Beach, Calif.) assisted on the play. Team USA doubled its lead when Dylan Pavelek (Marysville, Mich.) lit the lamp at 15:51. Ryan Wagner (Park Ridge, Ill.) collected the lone helper. Fortunato found the back of the net with 47 seconds remaining in the first to put the U.S. up 3-0. Jack Dougherty (Cottage Grove, Minn.) and Jack Eichel (North Chelmsford, Mass.) recorded assists.
The Czech Republic notched back-to-back goals in the second stanza, just over one minute apart, to inch closer to the U.S. Team USA outshot the Czechs, 10-7, in the period.
Minney needed to make just three stops in the third period to help seal the victory for Team USA. Vitek Vanecek and Karel Vejmelka combined to make 31 total saves in the loss for the Czech Republic.
The U.S. National Under-18 Team now returns home and will face Bowling Green State University next on Feb. 21. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:07 p.m. EST at the BGSU Ice Arena. Team USA will then travel to Indianapolis to face the Indiana Ice on Feb. 22-23.