Team USA dominated Team Czech Republic 7-0 in a 2016 World Junior Championship quarterfinal game at the Helsinki Ice Hall in Helsinki, Finland Saturday to advance to the semifinals.
USA will play Russia, who defeated Denmark 6-5 in overtime in their quarterfinal match, Monday. Winner of that game will advance to the gold medal game, while the loser will move to the bronze medal match.
Auston Matthews scored a hat-trick to become the tournament leader in goals with seven. Matthews scored an even-strength goal at 4:15 of the second period and two power-play goals at 9:08 of the second period and at 0:24 of the third period.
Goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic earned a shutout on 28 saves.
Czech Republic goaltender Vitek Vanecek, who has started in every game this tournament for Czech Republic, was surprisingly pulled to begin the second period after allowing two goals on 10 shots. Pulling Vanecek proved to not be the answer as Ales Stezka would allow five goals on 25 shots for the remainder of the game.
Nick Schmaltz at 5:17 and Christian Dvorak at 15:14 scored the two goals on Vanecek. Schmaltz also added two assists and was named USA’s player of the game.
Scott Eansor also contributed with a shorthanded breakaway goal at 18:04 of the second period.
Alex DeBrincat returned to the lineup after missing two games with an upper-body injury suffered in the first period against Sweden on Monday. DeBrincat scored USA’s seventh goal of the game at 11:53 of the third period.
Czech Republic’s loss marks the fifth year in-a-row they have been eliminated in the quarterfinals.
Follow Colin Fitts on Twitter, @FittsTHW.