Photo by Mike Bernard/Hockey Canada
SUMMERSIDE, Prince Edward Island - Jacob Kvasnicka (Plymouth, Minn.), who was named the U.S. player of the game, recorded his first hat-trick of the season and added two assists to propel the the U.S. National Under-17 Team to a dominant 10-2 win over Czechia this afternoon inside Credit Union Place at the 2023 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge.
Czechia got on the board 1:11 into the game, as Vaclav Nestrasil got a quick rebound score, but LJ Mooney (West Mifflin, Pa.) was quick to respond just 19 seconds later, picking up the puck in the U.S. zone, carrying it up the ice and riffling a wrister from the left circle.
A Kvasnicka power-play goal made it a 2-1 game with 8:17 left in the opening frame. Cole McKinney (Lake Forest, Ill.) found Conrad Fondrk (White Bear Lake, Minn.) along the goal line and Fondrk connected with a waiting Kvasnicka on the doorstep, who tipped it home for a picture-perfect finish.
Kvasnicka added a third to Team USA's tally in the final seconds of the first, getting a stick on a redirect off a shot from Garrett Lindberg (Moorhead, Minn.). Will Moore (Ithaca, N.Y.) also earned an assist on the goal.
Fondrk was the next to score, finishing a beautiful passing play with a power-play goal. Kvasnicka found Fondrk in the slot and Fondrk buried a one-timer. Cullen Potter (Minneapolis, Minn.) was also credited with a helper.
Richard Gallant (Concord, Mass.) picked up his first of the season just 15 seconds later, getting his stick on a wraparound attempt from Moore and jamming it past Czech netminder Michal Orsulak. Kvasnicka started the play at the top of the zone for his fourth point on the night.
Hafele scored a second with 7:51 left in the period, receiving a pass from Potter across the crease and beating Orsulak with a one-timer from the bottom of the left circle. Jack Murtagh (East Greenbush, N.Y.) tallied an assist as well.
Kvasnicka completed the hat-trick exactly 60-seconds later, capitalizing on a net-front scramble after skating up the ice with Gallant on a 3-on-2. Moore also tallied an assist on the goal.
Will Belle (Minnetonka, Minn.) scored his second of the tournament with 1:37 left in the middle frame, then Mooney notched his second of the night 1:22 later.
Czechia was awarded a penalty shot just before the halfway mark of the third, but Joey Slavick (Westland, Mich.) denied the opportunity. A final score from Czechia's Matej Pekar brought the final tally to 10-2.
Patrick Quinlan (Kennett Square, Pa.) saw the opening 40 minutes in net for the U.S., turning aside 10 shots and earning his first win in international play, and Slavick closed the game, finishing with nine saves.
The U17s, who currently hold the top spot in the tournament standings with six points and a 2-0-0-0 (W-OTW-OTL-L) record, continue preliminary round play in the 2023 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge tomorrow (Nov. 4) against Finland. Puck drop is set for 6:00 p.m. ET at Credit Union Place and can be streamed live here.