The United States fell to the Czech Republic, 3-1, in the final game of preliminary-round action at the World Junior Championship. The U.S. team took 39 shots on Czech goaltender Vladislav Koutsky, but was only able to convert once in the loss.
The Czechs opened the scoring, tallying the only goal in the first period with Rostislav Olesz one-timing a bouncing puck over the left shoulder of Al Montoya.
As the second period got underway, Lukas Kasper upped the Czech lead to two, firing a hard shot from the top of the circle for 2-0, Czech Republic. After 18 minutes of scoreless hockey, Dan Fritsche put the U.S. on the board, launching a shot, high to the stick-side to bring the U.S. within one.
The score remained 2-1 until the final minute of play, despite three Drew Stafford chances, two of which hit posts in the third period. With just five seconds remaining to play, Olesz scored his second of the night, an empty-netter, for the 3-1 final score.
The U.S. finished the preliminary round as the third seed in Group A and will face Sweden on Jan. 1, at 7:38 p.m. (CST). The winner of that game will advance to the semifinals on Jan. 2.
In other tournament action, Canada downed Finland, 8-1, at Ralph Engelstad Arena in Grand Forks, N.D.. In games at Thief River Falls, Minn., Sweden defeated Slovakia, 3-0, and Russia beat Switzerland, 6-1.