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U.S. in Hlinka title game after holding off Czechs

Friday, 08.09.2013 / 3:21 PM NHL.com

Ryan Wagner got in behind the Czech Republic defense and scored the go-ahead goal 8:46 into the third period as the United States advanced to the championship game of the 2013 Memorial of Ivan Hlinka with a 5-3 win Friday in Breclav, Czech Republic.

The U.S. will face Canada, a 3-1 winner over Russia in Friday's other semifinal, for the tournament title on Saturday in Piestany, Slovakia. The Czech Republic and Russia square off for third place back in Breclav.

"The guys really dug down deep to get the win," coach Bob Corkum told the USA Hockey website. "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 Wagner scored on a deke to put the U.S. in front for the third time in the game, Cody Milan ended the drama by putting the puck into an empty net with six seconds left.

The teams went back and forth at each other over the first two periods, with the Czechs drawing even at 3-3 late in the second as Vaclav Karabacek won a battle for the puck behind the net and sent it out front where Pavel Zacha converted with 40 seconds remaining for his second goal of the game.

Jakub Vrana had erased a 2-1 lead for the United States starting the second when he scored a power-play goal at 8:09, but Justin Schmaltz took advantage of a poor clearing attempt by the Czechs to score an unassisted goal 1:59 later, restoring the lead.

Trailing 1-0 after Zacha opened the scoring at 4:04 of the first, the U.S. went in front for the first time as Jake Wahlin and Nick Schmaltz lit the lamp. Wahlin scored off a pass from Milan at 9:49 to even the score and Schmaltz made it 2-1 with 1:50 left in the period as his shot through traffic eluded Czech goalie Vitek Vanecek just after a U.S. power play had expired.

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