International Ice Hockey Federation

U.S. moves to 2-0 with win

Slovaks fall to earth after big win yesterday

Published 28.12.2013 16:53 GMT+1 | Author Andrew Podnieks
U.S. moves to 2-0 with win
MALMO, SWEDEN - DECEMBER 28: Slovakia's #30 Richard Sabol dives to make a save during preliminary round action at the 2014 IIHF World Junior Championship. (Photo by Francois Laplante/HHOF-IIHF Images)
The USA built a 3-0 lead and pulled away to defeat Slovakia 6-3 to stay perfect at the 2014 U20. Slovakia fell to 1-1 with the loss.

Slovakia mounted a partial comeback late in the second to make it 3-2 after 40 minutes, but that's as close as they got.

As in their first game, the Americans got goals from all different players. Six players also had two points in the game. 

"That's the identity of our team," Ryan Hartman noted. "We don't have that one player who's going to go out and score four goals. We have a well-rounded team and everyone is contributing, which is great to see." 

Five goals of the nine today were scored on the power play, the Americans getting three.

"It's hard to win a game when they score almost every time they get a power play," Martin Reway conceded.

The Slovaks were the polar opposite to the U.S.. All the offence came from the top line of Reway (two goals), Milan Kolena (one goal, one assist), and David Griger (two assists). That threesome has now accounted for seven of the team's 12 goals and 17 of the 31 scoring points so far this tournament.

"It's not what we thought. We thought we had four good lines that could score," Reway admitted. "But it's only two games, so we'll see. Right now it's us, but that's our job. We have to lead the team." A Montreal draft choice, Reway has played in the QMJHL the last two seasons.

The Slovaks came out of the first period trailing 2-0 despite skating with the Americans stride for stride for most of it. But they had the first two power plays and couldn’t covert while the Americans had two late man-advantage opportunities and scored on both.

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The opening goal came from 17-year-old Jack Eichel, who took a nice feed from Hartman off the rush to beat Richard Sabol between the pads.

"I think our line with Jack Eichel and Adam Erne have been playing well," Hartman noted. "I saw Jack coming down the middle and I was on the outside, so I just tried to get him the puck as he went to the net. He's a skilled player."

Sabol then made a terrible blunder to put his team in a bigger hole.

In the final minute of play the puck rolled into the Slovak end, but an American was chasing the puck. Sabol raced out to clear it away but fanned on the shot. He had little choice but to turn and fall on the puck well out of his crease, earning a delay of game penalty.

On the ensuing power play, Dan O’Regan snapped in a loose puck from close range as time expired. Video review clearly showed the puck crossed the goal line before the clock reached 0:00. For the Americans, it was a bit of breathing room; for the Slovaks some bad luck, which demoralized the team heading to the dressing room.

Although shots were 22-11 for the U.S. many were from long range while Mario Lunter had a couple of good chances for the Slovaks but couldn’t beat the steady Jon Gillies in goal.

Lunter had a great chance short-handed early in the second, but he was thwarted again by Gillies. Moments later, Hartman converted a tee-up pass from Will Butcher to fire a one-timer over Sabol’s shoulder to make it 3-0 at 4:22.

The Slovaks got on the board thanks to their captain, Kolena. First, he drew a penalty after being kneed at the blue line by Ian McCoshen, and then on the ensuing power play he knocked in a rebound to make it 3-1. Peter Cehlarik took the original shot, but Gillies couldn’t control the rebound and Kolena made a perfect shot.

Less than two minutes later that comfortable American lead grew much less so thanks to another power-play goal. This man advantage came as a result of a high-sticking penalty by Hartman in the offensive end.

Kolena made a nice rush and linemate Griger had one chance before the third member of the threesome, Reway, made no mistake with the third chance, at 12:57.

"Those sorts of things happen in a game, but we responded well," Hartman said.

Marko Dano had a great chance to tie the game early in the third when he skated hard to create a breakaway during a U.S. power play, but Gillies gave him no room to work with.

Again, that miss proved costly as the Americans made it 4-2 at 9:33. Connor Carrick's point shot missed the net but bounced out the back side right onto the stick of Matt Grzelcyk who snapped it into the open side before Sabol could get a pad across.

Stefan Matteau and captain Riley Barber added late goals to close out the scoring for the Americans. Reway got his second with 2:08 remaining.

"We got a couple of big goals in the third and that got us going again," said Eichel. "We stayed positive, even after they got two quick goals."