U.S. ADVANCES TO PARA CUP GOLD MEDAL GAME

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Kevin McKee

Four different players registered three-point performances to power the United States to an 8-0 victory over the Czech Republic in the semifinals of the 2019 Canadian Tire Para Hockey Cup on Thursday afternoon.

The United States, which scored six of its goals in period one, now has an opportunity to capture its sixth-straight gold medal at this competition. America will duel either Canada or Russia in the championship game on Saturday night (6 p.m. NT.).

Kevin McKee recorded two goals and an assist and Noah Grove, Brody Roybal and Jack Wallace produced a marker and two helpers apiece for the U.S., which also received a two-point performance from Declan Farmer and a goal from Rico Roman.

Jen Lee only needed to make five saves to net his second shutout of the tournament against the Czech Republic.

Martin Kudela, despite allowing eight goals on 33 shots, shone in defeat as at least 20 of the attempts directed his way were of ten-bell quality. He left the game due to injury with 8:46 remaining in the third period, and Michal Vapenka stopped all three shots he faced the rest of the way.

Grove initiated the offensive fireworks of the red, white and blue just 4:51 into the game, smacking the puck into a wide-open cage due to Kudela losing sight of the puck.

The lead was doubled just 58 seconds later by Hargis, who buried a behind-the-net centring pass from Roybal.

Wallace then took over the period. He recorded primary helpers on Farmer’s power-play goal at 8:39 and McKee’s five-on-five marker with just over five minutes remaining in the period to increase the Americans’ lead to 4-0, and then he scored the fifth goal himself with a picture-perfect snipe from the left faceoff circle that connected with the top corner on the far side.

Roman capped the scoring frenzy with 27 seconds remaining in a first period that saw the United States outshoot the Czech Republic 18-2.

Thanks to the goaltending of Kudela, the United States only increased its goal tally in the second period. The 22-year-old Czech netminder made a multitude of sensational stops, including a breakaway blocker denial on a hard-charging Roybal.

However, Roybal got his revenge with 45 seconds remaining in the period, beating Kudela with a forehand deke in tight.

Shots favoured the Americans 12-2 in period two.

McKee scored the lone goal of period three at the 1:40 mark to increase the U.S. lead to 8-0.

Shots were 6-2 in favour of the U.S. in the third.