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Hellebuyck leads U.S. to Worlds bronze with shutout

by Staff

Goaltender Connor Hellebuyck (Winnipeg Jets) made 39 saves to lead the United States to a 3-0 win against the Czech Republic in the bronze-medal game of the 2015 IIHF World Championship on Sunday in a game played at O2 Arena in Prague.

Nick Bonino (Vancouver Canucks) and Charlie Coyle (Minnesota Wild) each had a goal and an assist for the U.S. Trevor Lewis (Los Angeles Kings) also scored.

Czech Republic goaltender Ondrej Pavelec (Winnipeg Jets) made 13 saves.

The victory avenges a 4-3 loss to the Czechs in the quarterfinals of the 2014 Worlds. It's the first medal for the U.S. since winning the bronze in 2013.

"I'm very proud," U.S. captain Matt Hendricks told the IIHF website. "We had a quick turnaround. Obviously we wanted to be playing for the gold medal. But we were able to rally the troops and come out tonight and play a very, very strong game, backed by a great performance from our goaltender."

Bonino put the U.S. on the board with a goal at 7:25 of the first period, knocking in the rebound of a shot by Brock Nelson (New York Islanders). Lewis made it 2-0 with 1:47 remaining the first when he scored off a pass from Jack Eichel, NHL Central Scouting's No. 2-rated North American skater in its rankings for the 2015 NHL Draft.

The Czech Republic outshot the U.S. 12-4 in the second but failed to get anything past Hellebuyck. They certainly had chances, including 1:57 of carryover power-play time to start the period after Coyle was whistled for slashing at 19:57 of the first, and a four-minute power play when Bonino was assessed a double-minor for high-sticking at 12:17 of the second.

Coyle pushed the U.S. lead to 3-0 with 49.8 seconds left in the second when he scored off a pass from Bonino. It was Coyle's third goal in five games at the tournament.

The Czechs pushed the pace even more in the third, outshooting the U.S. 16-1, but again Hellebuyck stood tall, helping the U.S. kill off two more penalties.

Hellebuyck went 7-1 with two shutouts, a 1.37 goals-against average and a tournament-best .948 save percentage. His seven wins tied a U.S. record for most in a single tournament set in 1939.

"Connor's our best player night in, night out," Lewis said according to the IIHF website. "He was there to stop pucks for us, and clear rebounds. We knew if we had a breakdown he was going to be there, he was a calming presence for us. I can't say enough about him."

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