Matthews Leads Team USA To World Semis

The youngest player for the United States came up big in clutch time this morning at the IIHF World Championships in Russia, with Auston Matthews scoring the game-tying goal in the second period and the game-winner in a shootout to lead the Americans to a 2-1 upset victory over Czech Republic.

They have advanced to the semifinal for the third time in the last four years and if they can get past Canada they’ll be playing for a gold medal in a World Championship for the first time since 1950 when it wasn’t concurrently held with the Winter Olympics. Canada won their preliminary round game 5-1 May 6.

Matthews, 18, has been widely considered to be the No. 1 overall pick in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft before Toronto won the lottery. He’s been on the radar of NHL teams for the past couple years, when he spurred playing college hockey and the Everett Silvertips of the WHL in favor of playing for ZSC Lions of the Swiss National League A. The Lions are coached by Marc Crawford and Matthews finished the season as his teams top scorer and 10th overall in the league. His stat line of 24 goals, 22 assists in 36 games played was good enough to finish second in league MVP voting.

His goal in the second period was a beauty when he took a pass from Frank Vatrano in the offensive zone, skated around two defenders and slid a backhanded shot between the pads of Dominik Furch. Matthews had a chance to take the lead later in the second but his wrister rang off the crossbar.

His shootout goal was the only one scored and it came when he skated down the left side of the ice and just after faking to his backhand coming towards the middle of the ice fired a quick snap on the short side between the pads and stick of Furch.

The United States – Canada game Saturday afternoon has a 1:00 p.m. EDT start time on NBC Sports Live Extra. The first semifinal will take place at 9:00 a.m. EDT between Russia and Finland.

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