Some games, you do everything but score.
The United States was riding a one-goal lead for the better part of its game with the Czech Republic Tuesday night before finally cashing in on opportunities.
Late goals from Samantha Davis and Melissa Samoskevich helped the U.S. earn a 3-0 win in its second preliminary game of the Women’s U18 World Championship at HarborCenter in Buffalo, N.Y.
Alex Woken opened the scoring at 3:28 as the U.S. shook off the emotion of Monday’s shootout win over Canada.
The Americans dominated the pace of play and did everything but punch the puck across the goal line.
For the game, they held a 34-8 advantage in shots and key became staying focused and avoiding frustration.
“Those can be frustrating games but I was proud of the way the kids played,” U.S. coach Joel Johnson said. “You tip your hat to the Czech Republic team. They had a good game plan. They trapped us coming out of the zone which makes it tough to get up the ice and have any possession. And their goalie played well. So I was really pleased. I told our players I was just as happy with today’s effort as I was yesterday.
“It’s one of the things we’ve talked about is staying composed,” Johnson said. “It’s been a theme and everybody we’ve had come talk to our team has had the same message. There’s going to be ups and downs, ebbs and flows to the game. On the bench there was no panic. Maybe I was hiding a little bit going c’mon, I’d sure like to get the second goal but it was great. We need to go through those types of games to prepare us for the future.”
Davis scored with about 12 minutes left in regulation, putting home a pass from Caitrin Lonergan. That finally gave the U.S. it’s coveted 2-0 lead as Czech Republic goaltender Blanka Skodova gave an outstanding performance.
“We really needed that second goal,” Davis said. “Coach was talking about how we needed to get that second one so we could get that safety net under us. … We had a bunch of shots and I wish we had a few more and I wish we hit the net a bit more, but what can you do? I mean I thought we played really good O-zone. So it’s OK.”
Samoskevich scored with less than a minute remaining in regulation to secure the win while Brittany Buglaski made just eight saves – but several of them quality – for the shutout.
“Those are very tough games to play in as a goaltender to be able to stay composed and sharp because there was probably twice a period where she was called on to make really high level saves and she stepped up to the task each time,” Johnson said.
The tournament has an off day Wednesday with the final day of preliminary games scheduled for Thursday.
The U.S. now leads Group A with five points with Canada behind with four. Russia has three while the Czech Republic is winless.
The U.S. plays Russia Thursday while Canada meets the Czechs. The top two teams in Group A get a bye into the semifinal round.