Despite Steven Whitney's team-leading fourth goal of the tournament, the U.S. Under-17 Select Team fell to host Czech Republic, 7-2, here today in the finale of the 2007 Under-17 Five Nations Tournament. Team USA finished the tournament in second place with a 3-1-0-0 record.
"Obviously it was unfortunate to lose tonight, but we had a great tournament," said St. Louis Bandits coach Jon Cooper, head coach of Team USA. "The most rewarding thing was that we definitely got better every game and the players progressed throughout the course of the tournament. I'm very proud of our team."
The Czechs struck early in the first stanza when Lukas Kapec notched a power-play goal at the 3:33 mark. Later in the period, Antonin Honejsek increased the Czech Republic's lead with a wrist shot that beat U.S. netminder Matthew Skoff at 19:24.
Michal Hlinka took a pass from across the crease and tapped it past Skoff at 3:44 of the middle frame to make it 3-0. One minute later, Whitney took Kyle Beattie's pass, deked Czech goaltender Philip Novotny and slid the puck into the empty net to cut the deficit to 3-1. The Czechs scored once again at 9:10 to take back the two-goal advantage.
In the final period, after the Czech Republic made it 5-1, Josh Birkholz one-timed a pass from Brad Walch past Novotny to make it a 5-2 score. Honejsek tallied twice more to account for the 7-2 final score.
Skoff and Brandon Maxwell combined for 30 saves in the losing effort.
NOTES: Steven Whitney was named Team USA's Player of the Game … Brad Walch received All-Tournament Team honors … Whitney led Team USA with seven points (4-3) in the tournament … Four members of Team USA were on the 2006 U.S. Under-17 Select Team that competed in the 2006 Three Nations Tournament held in Rochester, N.Y. … Players were chosen from the 2007 USA Hockey Select 16 Player Development Camp, which was held June 23-29 at the ESL Sports Centre in Rochester, N.Y., and featured many of America's best hockey players born in 1991. Kyle Wallack (Wallingford, Conn.), who is an assistant coach at Yale University, served as the assistant coach for Team USA.