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U.S., Czech Republic to meet in World U-18 final

Saturday, 04.26.2014 / 11:40 AM

By NHL.com Staff -  / 2014 NHL Draft blog

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2014 NHL Draft blog
U.S., Czech Republic to meet in World U-18 final

Dylan Larkin, a top prospect for the 2014 NHL Draft, had a goal and an assist as the United States advanced to the gold-medal game at the 2014 IIHF World Under-18 Championship with a 4-1 win against Sweden in a semifinal game played Saturday at Lappeenranta Arena in Lappeenranta, Finland.

The United States will face the Czech Republic in the championship game on Sunday at Imatra Arena in Imatra, Finland. The Czech Republic beat Canada 4-3 in overtime, with David Kase scoring the winner 6:17 into extra time.

Canada, the defending gold medalists, got a goal and an assist from Matt Barzal, a top prospect for the 2015 NHL Draft. Joseph Hicketts and Daniel Audette also had goals. Mason McDonald, No. 2 on Central Scouting's final ranking of North American goaltenders for the 2014 NHL Draft, made 29 saves.

Canada trailed 3-1 after two periods but Hicketts and Audette scored in the third period to tie the game. Audette, No. 75 on NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of the top North American skaters for this year, scored off the rebound of Barzal's shot to tie the game with 7:39 remaining in regulation.

Kase, who plays for Chomutov in the Czech junior league and is eligible for the 2015 draft, scored his second of the tournament in overtime.

Jakub Vrana, No. 4 on Central Scouting's final ranking of the top European skaters this year, had a goal and an assist. Vrana leads the tournament with eight goals and is third with 10 points.

In the first semifinal, Ryan Hitchcock had a goal and an assist, and Jack Eichel and Auston Mathews also had goals. Alex Nedeljkovic, the No. 4 North American goaltender in NHL Central Scouting's final rankings, stopped 19 of 20 shots.

Gustav Franzen put Sweden ahead when he scored 2:39 into the game, but Mathews responded 32 seconds later.

Hitchcock put the U.S. ahead when he scored off a Noah Hanifin rebound 7:47 into the second period.

Larkin, No. 17 on Central Scouting's final ranking of North American skaters for this year's draft, scored 8:38 into the third. Hitchcock caused a turnover behind Sweden's net and sent the puck in front to Larkin, who scored under the crossbar from in close.

Eichel, a top prospect for the 2015 draft, closed the scoring with an empty-net goal with 46 seconds left.