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3 keys to success for U.S. against Czech Republic in World Juniors

The NHL Network will provide exclusive live telecasts of all United States games during the 2019 IIHF World Junior Championship in Vancouver and Victoria, British Columbia.

The United States (3-0-1-0) finished second in Group B at Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre in Victoria and will play Czech Republic (1-1-0-2 in Group A) in the quarterfinals on Wednesday (8 p.m. ET; NHLN, TSN2). 

Longtime NCAA hockey analyst Dave Starman, who will handle the broadcast along with Stephen Nelson, will give his three keys to victory for the United States before each of its games during the 11-day tournament.

“The [Czech Republic] have been competitive but not overly impressive, and they don’t have the kind of depth that the United States possesses down the middle or the quality on the back end,” Starman said. “As Maine coach Red Gendron always likes to remind me, “The team that gets off the bus with the best players usually wins.”

Here are Starman’s three keys to success for the United States against Czech Republic:


1. Own the third circle

“As Dallas Stars coach Jim Montgomery likes to reference, the third circle is the imaginary one between the circles in the offensive and defensive zone. Against [Sweden], the United States struggled there. Against [Finland], they were great in these two areas. That is non-negotiable. The United States has to own these areas and proved they can.”


2. Frustrate its opponent

“Switzerland really dumbed down the 2017 WJC quarterfinal game against the United States and almost won it (3-2). If you go back and watch the game, you’d see an emotionless game with no edge. That can’t happen here. The building will be pro-Czech, as it was in Edmonton in 2012, a game United States assistant coach Scott Sandelin remembers well. Czech Republic goalie Petr Mrazek turned in a performance for the ages in a packed anti-United States building and gave the Czech Republic a huge upset win that essentially KO’d the United States from the medal round. If you are the United States, take the Czech Republic and the crowd out of this one early.”


3. The one-and-done mentality  

“The road to the NCAA championship is full of single-game elimination games. United States assistant coach Scott Sandelin is a two-time national champion as a head coach (at Minnesota-Duluth). Steve Miller has three to his name as an assistant coach (Providence in 2015; Denver in 2004, 2005), as well as a gold and bronze medal at the world juniors. Jerry Keefe (Northeastern), David Lassonde (Dartmouth) and Mike Hastings (Minnesota State) have all been through countless one-and-done games. They know how to prep a team for these scenarios and the team, made mostly of NCAA-based players, also knows the deal. I think the United States has a huge edge in managing a 60-minute game, winner takes all.”

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