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Kerry Collins, Published April 17 2009

Surprising scorer: Samuelsson’s unlikely goal sets up matchup with Canada

Philip Samuelsson is not the guy most people would pick to start an offensive surge.

His first goal of the year – in any league or tournament – got the United States offense going in Thursday’s quarterfinals of the IIHF World U18 hockey championships.

Samuelsson’s goal ignited a four-goal second period to set the U.S. up with a 6-2 win over the Czech Republic on Thursday at the Urban Plains Center.

“I’ve been getting chances, but it was good to finally have one squeak by,” Samuelsson said. “I saw it go in. I just didn’t know if I was the one who got it.

“I’m not used to celebrations, so I just froze.”

Samuelsson didn’t score a goal in 54 games with the United States Hockey League’s Chicago Steel this season.

He didn’t score in his eight games at two Four Nations tournaments, and he didn’t score in Team USA’s first four games of the tourney.

His blast from the top of the left circle came just 55 seconds into the second period.

Team USA led just 2-1 after the first period, but Kenny Ryan, Jerry D’Amigo and Jeremy Morin all followed Samuelsson onto the score sheet in the second.

That made it 6-1 with 20 minutes to play.

“A 2-1 lead is not one you want, so that was a big goal right out of the gates,” said Drew Shore, who scored both of America’s first-period goals and assisted on Samuelsson’s tally. “That gave us momentum for the rest of the period.”

The United States led 2-0 midway through the first period thanks to Shore’s first two goals of the tournament, but a power-play goal from Antonin Honejsek with roughly five minutes to go cut the lead to at the first intermission.

“Drew scores two goals and then they get that power-play goal,” U.S. coach Ron Rolston said. “The Czechs are a team you don’t want to get behind against, and we were able to distance ourselves from them after that.”

Once again, the Americans shelled the opponent’s net. Team USA outshot the Czechs 58-23 in the win.

The Americans have averaged a whopping 50 shots on goal per game in their five tournament contests.

“During the game, it doesn’t feel like it’s that many shots,” Rolston said. “But we want them to get a lot of pucks at the net and make the goalie make the save.”

The win sets the United States up with rival Canada in today’s semifinals. The puck drops at 7:30 p.m. at Urban Plains Center.

“You can’t get a much bigger game than that,” Shore said. “When you’re growing up, you want to watch Canada and the U.S. because it’s a big rivalry.

“It’s a big game, and it’s going to be fun.”

FIRST PERIOD: 1, US, Shore (Henrion), 9:38. 2, US, Shore (Bourque, Rempel), 13:43. 3, CR, Honejsek (Nestrasil, Polasek), 14:48 (pp).

SECOND PERIOD: 4, US, Samuelsson (Shore), 20:55. 5, US, Ryan (D’Amigo), 28:54 (pp). 6, US, D’Amigo (Fowler), 35:52. 7, US, Morin (Fowler, D’Amigo), 38:09 (pp).

THIRD PERIOD: 8, CR, Palat (Musil, Herman), 4:24 (pp).

SAVES: US, Campbell 4-9-8—21. CR, Novotny 13-21-18—52.

A: 2,049.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Kerry Collins at (701) 241-5548.

Collins’ blogs can be found at www.areavoices.com