USA Beats Slovakia 2-1 in the Opening Game for USA
Coming off a bronze medal in the 2018 WJC, USA is one of the favorites to take home the gold. In a tough group, USA looked to get their first win to make the campaign a lot easier to finish top of the group.
Barratt scored the game-winning goal in the third period.
Keyser stopped 13 out of 14 shots and had a huge stop on Liska’s penalty shot.
The first period was a good, hard-fought period. The shots were even, the chances were far from many. The goalies stood tall for both teams, stopping the best scoring chances from both teams. Jack Hughes had one of the best chances of the period, using a nice power move that opened up a shot attempt. Another good scoring chance for team USA was on the power play when Jason Robertson took a hard shot from the top of the circle, where the Slovakian goalie Samuel Hlavaj made the save.
The difference for this period was the goaltenders, who both stopped all seven attempts at goal. Slovakia’s penalty kill also helped keep USA off the board.
The second period looked a little more lob-sided. The USA was in control for most of the period, outshooting Slovakia 12 to 5. USA seem to get more of the chances as they pushed hard to get the opening goal. Robertson was able to break past the Slovakian defense for a chance all alone, but it was stopped by Hlavaj. Not soon after, USA had chances from Madden and Wahlstrom.
With the USA controlling play, it looked certain that they would score first. Slovakia didn’t back down to just defense, they were ready to push back when they could. That is just what they did. On a 3-on-2 rush, Slovakia’s Korencik squeezed a shot through Keyser’s legs to take the lead. This lead carried to the intermission.
Team USA looked to bounce back from this 1-0 hole that they were in. They had their chance, in just 45 seconds they earned a power play. 35 seconds in, Jack Hughes gathered a rebound and found the captain Mikey Anderson, who fired it home from the blue line. Not long after, USA had another chance from Evan Barratt, who scored with a swift backhand. Just like that, USA was on top in less than six minutes.
Closing down the period, Slovakia’s best chance came from an awarded penalty shot for Liska. Keyser rose to the challenge and turned away the shot. After this attempt, USA closed out their 12th consecutive opening game victory.
For the USA, this was a good opening game, playing an opponent with some fight in them. This test the team, to show them what they need to work on, in order to better themselves for the rest of the tournament. This game showed that USA can play well defensively, and won’t just rely on their offensive ability.
USA’s Next Game
USA will face off against Kazakhstan
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