U-18 World Championship Roundup: Michkov Shines, USA Steals one From Czechs

Matvei Michkov scored four goals, including a lacrosse goal, USA came from behind late to beat the Czechs and Belarus and Sweden both came home victorious. Catch up with all the action on Day 4 at the World U-18 Hockey Championship.
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USA Steals Shootout Victory From Czechs

USA struggled to play a complete game, but in the end, they took home the victory with a 2-1 shootout victory in a thriller against the Czech Republic. 

The Czechs were the better team for most of the game, doing a good job of making the Americans chase the game. The Czechs took a 1-0 lead at 15:57 when Martin Rysavy sent the puck past Kaiden Mbereko for the 1-0 goal. It was reviewed because the net came off its moorings, but it was determined that Mbereko knocked it off himself and the goal would remain intact.

The Americans struggled to gain much momentum but at 42:35, their hard work finally paid off. Lane Hutson made a couple of moves with the puck near the blueline to give his team some time to organize around the net. He then found Sasha Pastujov waiting for the pass and he made no mistake on the shot, tying the game up at one apiece.

The Americans had a bit of a scare when Mbereko was taken out of the game after what looked like he tweaked something in his body. He missed 11 minutes of play but returned and stayed strong as the game was forced into overtime – USA's second extra-time outing of the tournament.

In overtime, the Americans started with a power-play but nothing came out of it. The game went to shootout, where defenseman Lane Hutson was the only one to score to finish off an impressive performance for the youngster, giving his team the victory.

Belarus Keeps Momentum Rolling With Big Win Over Latvia

Belarus carried the momentum from a big 7-1 win against Switzerland on Tuesday to defeat Latvia 5-1 on Thursday, a win that will do wonders for Belarus as the tournament moves on.

With the win, Belarus moves to second in Group A and clinches a spot in the quarter-final – the third time in the past three tournaments. It's a big moment for a nation tha spent the six years prior in one of the two Division I tournaments and only previously stayed in the top group in consecutive years from 2002-2004.

Latvia will finish last in Group A, regardless of the team's result against Sweden. Canada, Sweden and Switzerland will clinch spots along with Belarus, with the final order still to be determined.

Belarus' lead started 2:24 into the game when Fyodor Nikolayenya sent a quick one past Marks Slavinskis for the 1-0 lead. Danila Klimovich would continue his near-indestructible run on the man advantage with a power-play goal just 49 seconds in, sending his now-popular wrist shot past Slavinskis with ease.

The goals then kept rolling. Just 2:59 into the second, Yegor Klavdiev moved Belarus up to a three-goal advantage, but a penalty of his own resulted in Martins Lavins capitalizing for Latvia just 34 seconds later to make it 3-1. Belarus, though, was controlling the play and Latvia already looked gassed at the halfway point after a tough contest against Canada on Wednesday. Klimovich would score another on the power play and Ilya Morozov and Miroslav Mikhaylov would add goals late. Rainers Darzins scored on a solo effort for Latvia, but it was 6-2 and out of reach at that point.

Michkov Steals the Spotlight For Russia

He may be 16, but his talent is completely off the charts. Matvei Michkov was the man to watch on Thursday after scoring three goals in a big 5-1 win for Russia over Germany.

The game started admirably for a Russian team that has struggled to put a complete 60 minutes together. At 10:44, Danila Yurov opened the scoring after Fyodor Svechkov saw his linemate cruising towards the crease from the corner, setting him up for the only goal of the inaugural frame.

But the second period was all Michkov. One of the best Russian prospects out of Russia in over a decade, Michkov pulled off the tournament's second Michigan lacrosse-style goal when he got behind the German net, lifted the puck on his stick and stuffed it under the crossbar. Back on Tuesday, Belarusian defender Dmitri Kuzmin did the same thing, taking the puck from the blueline before beating the Swiss netminder with the creative goal. 

But the Michkov hype train wasn't ready to call it a night. At 27:12, Michkov tapped in a rebound from Vladimir Grudinin to extend the lead to three goals. But at 35:29, Michkov scored another contender for top goal of the tournament when, on a rebound on the power play, he put his stick between his legs to get the puck up high over Nikita Quapp and in for the 4-0 goal – good enough for the hat-trick. Ilya Kvochko would score on a delayed penalty call with 15 minutes left to go to make it 5-0 for Russia, but Connor Korte would end Sergei Ivanov's shutout bid with 5:29 left to play – but another goal from Michkov restored Russia's five-goal advantage and was good enough to hold until the final buzzer.

Sweden Exploits Man Advantage to Stop Switzerland

It's been a rocky tournament for Tre Kronor, but they still managed to escape their match with Switzerland with a 3-1 victory on Thursday.

It started ugly for Sweden, who were outplayed heavily by their Swiss counterparts early on. At 22:59, Benjamin Bougro opened the scoring after Kevin Nicolet kicked the puck out to him in the slot, beating Carl Lindbom for the 1-0 goal.

But from there, it was all Sweden. Switzerland gave up four power-play goals to Belarus in a 7-1 loss earlier in the week and the special teams unit would hurt them again. Maximilian Streule was ejected for a kneeing major, putting Sweden on a five-minute power play that was enough to secure the win. At 32:00, Isak Rosen one-timed a pass from Fabian Lysell to tie the game up. 

Just 2:15 later, Liam Dower Nilsson took a Lysell feed himself to make it 2-1, and Arvid Sundin capitalized on Dower Nilsson's setup 1:29 after that. The game was full of penalties the rest of the way, but the score remained the same in a 3-1 victory for Sweden.

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Three Stars

1. Matvei Michkov, F (RUS): You have to be very, very, very brave to pull off a lacrosse style goal and he did just that. He scored three more for good measure, too. Not too shabby for the 2023 draft phenom.

2. Danila Klimovich, F (BLR): The legend continues. Now up to six goals for Belarus, all with the man advantage.

3. Kaidan Mbereko, G (USA): First start, great effort for USA. Was removed from the net briefly for an injury but was a huge reason why USA remained involved.

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Day 5 Schedule

Finland vs. Germany - 9:00 PM ET
Canada vs. Switzerland - 9:00 PM ET

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Standings

Group A:
1. Canada, 6
2. Belarus, 6
3. Sweden, 6
4. Switzerland, 3
5. Latvia, 0

Group B:
1. Russia, 6
2. Finland, 5
3. USA, 5
4. Czech Republic, 4
5. Germany, 0

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