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U.S. defeats Czech Republic, 7-0

by Mike G. Morreale

The United States. National Junior Team was clicking on all cylinders Wednesday, scoring a 7-0 victory against the Czech Republic in quarterfinal-round action of the 2013 World Junior Championship in Ufa, Russia.

The United States advances to play Canada in the semifinal round Thursday. Canada, which beat the Americans 2-1 in the preliminary round, won Group B to earn a bye into the semifinals.

John Gaudreau notched the hat trick -- the first for an American at the WJC since Austin Watson's natural hat trick last year. Gaudreau, who was named the U.S. player of the game, has five goals during his past two games after going scoreless in the first three preliminary round contests.

Additionally, Riley Barber scored twice, Seth Jones and Jacob Trouba each had four assists and goalie John Gibson made 31 saves in the triumph.

The Americans finished the game with five power-play goals, picking up where they left off in the final preliminary round victory against Slovakia on Monday when they struck for four goals with the man advantage.

U.S. coach Phil Housley seems to have found the right combination on the power play with Gaudreau and Vince Trocheck working the wings for J.T. Miller.

The victory certainly wiped out any memory of the 2012 WJC, when the Americans suffered a 5-2 preliminary round loss to the Czechs behind Petr Mrazek's 52-save performance. That loss knocked the United States from participation in the medal round.

The United States struck for five goals in the second period to open a 6-0 lead.

Barber and Gaudreau each scored twice and Ryan Hartman also fired in a goal during the offensive outburst in the middle period. Gaudreau's second of the period, a power-play marker off a cross-ice feed from J.T. Miller with 12.8 seconds remaining, was his third of the game.

The United States connected for five power-play goals on 12 attempts in the contest.

Gaudreau connected for his second power-play goal of the game just 28 seconds into the second when he collected a pass from Trouba and jammed home a shot at the right post. Hartman scored off a big rebound in the left circle after Trouba's slapper from the right circle wasn't controlled by Czech goalie Patrik Bartosak.

Hartman's goal forced Czech Republic coach Miroslav Prerost to pull starter Bartosak 1:08 into the second and insert backup Matej Machovsky.

Barber then scored two straight. His first came on the power play, off a splendid assist from Alex Galchenyuk at the 8:44 mark. Galchenyuk took a pass from Trouba and skated down the slot to draw two defenders before feathering a pass to Barber storming into the right circle. Barber's goal was his second of the tournament.

Barber then scored off a breakaway just one second after the United States had successfully killed a power-play chance by the Czechs. Seth Jones sprung Barber into the open ice down his right wing before he skated in and put a backhand under Machovsky.

Gibson, who was forced to make two big stops for the Americans on Tomas Hyka and Tomas Hertl in the second, had 23 saves through two periods, including 15 in the second.

Gaudreau completed the scoring in the second when he took a feed from Miller at the right post before whipping home his third of the game. Miller completed the scoring when a big blast from the point by Trouba deflected off the New York Rangers prospect, who was stationed right in front of Machovsky.

The United States played the game with six defensemen as Shayne Gostisbehere served a suspension for one game for the slashing major and game misconduct he was assessed against Slovakia. Gostisbehere will return to the lineup Thursday against Canada.

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale

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