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U.S. gets Czechs in quarterfinals at U-18 tournament

by Adam Kimelman
The U.S. finished preliminary-round play at the IIHF World Under-18 Tournament in winning fashion, routing host Belarus, 7-1.
Jason Zucker, ranked No. 51 among North American forwards by NHL Central Scouting for the 2010 Entry Draft, had a goal and an assist to pace the U.S. attack. Rocco Grimaldi had a goal and 2 assists, and Adam Clendening and Brandon Saad also had a goal and an assist each.
Goaltender Andy Iles, in his first tournament action, stopped 17 of 18 shots.
The U.S. next will play the Czech Republic on Tuesday in the medal round.
"Belarus is a gritty team and played hard," U.S. coach Kurt Kleinendorst told USA Hockey's Web site. "This is one of those games as a coach that you just want to get through it, having already clinched a spot in the next round.
"We know what lies ahead. I am very comfortable and confident in this group that we can continue to play up to our potential and keep winning."
The Czechs finished the last day of preliminary-round play falling to Finland, 4-3 in a shootout. The Czechs led 3-1 after two periods, but Mikael Granlund -- Central Scouting's top-rated European skater -- scored a power-play goal 5:57 into the third, and then Mika Partanen scored to tie the game with 3:58 left in regulation.
After a scoreless overtime, Granlund, Teemu Pulkkinen and Joonas Donskoi all scored in the shootout, and goaltender Jonathan Ilahati stopped two of three Czech shooters.
Finland, which went unbeaten to in Pool B to clinch the top spot, will face the winner of the U.S.-Czech Republic game in the semifinals Wednesday.
Sweden, which ended preliminary-round play by holding on for a 5-4 win against Canada, already had clinched the top spot in Pool A, and was the only team to win all four of its opening-round games in regulation. They'll face the winner of the Russia-Switzerland quarterfinal game in Wednesday's second semifinal.
Sweden took a 4-0 lead in the first two periods, chasing Canada goalie Kent Simpson in the process. Central Scouting's third-ranked goaltender for the 2010 Draft allowed three goals on 16 shots before he was pulled with Canada trailing 3-0.
Calvin Pickard, rated the No. 1 North American goaltender for the June draft, held his team in the game, as Canada mounted a furious third-period rally. Ryan O'Connor and Christian Thomas scored 2:56 apart early in the period to pull Canada within 4-2, but Mattias Granlund responded with his second goal of the game to make it 5-2, and late goals by Freddie Hamilton and Quinton Howden were academic.
Canada now will face Latvia and Belarus in the relegation round. A win in at least one of those games will guarantee it a spot in the 2011 tournament.
"I just have the feeling that they thought everything was going to be easy," Canada coach Guy Carbonneau told Hockey Canada's Web site when asked what happened to his team. "And that wasn't the case.
"I think they're starting to realize that they need to get mad at themselves and not at the rest of the world, or at the other teams. I think the other teams are just playing their games, and I think there's been a lot of frustration in our game."
In the other game Sunday, Russia got two first-period goals from Efim Gurkin en route to a 3-1 victory that sent Slovakia to the relegation round and earned Russia a quarterfinal date with Switzerland on Tuesday.
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