World Juniors 2018 recap & highlights: Slovakia stuns Team USA with 3-2 win

The first period was dull as tombs, the third was one for the ages.

Team USA looked to keep their winning ways going after a dominant win against Denmark, while Slovakia hoped to recover from a similar loss to Canada.

Montreal’s Ryan Poehling took the opening face-off for Team USA, and went to work. They largely controlled play, but only got one shot in the first five minutes, as Slovakia also played pretty well, keeping the USA around the perimeter.

USA got the first shot, but Slovakia got the next two. With just over nine minutes to  go, Brady Tkachuck rang the crossbar as the Americans began to pressure with more authority. He got another chance, bu those two chances were the only real moments of interest in an otherwise dull period—made duller by a glass change with 4:40 to go.

The first came to a merciful end, shots 9-5 for Team USA.

The Americans looked slightly more awake to start the second, Kieffer Bellows taking a very nice shift.

It would be Slovakia that scored first, however, as a blocked shot on one end, led to a rush the other way, and Slovakia's first goal in over 100 minutes scored by Filip Krivosik.

Team USA took the first penalty of the game as Ryan Lindgren passed Joseph Woll's stick back to him. Poehling blocked a shot, Woll stopped a few, and the kill came to an end.

Poehling contributed the going the other way as well, making a terrific, heads-up pass to Tkachuk, who scored an absolute beauty, to tie the game 11:07 into the second.

The Poehling line had another good shift, which unfortunately ended with Poheling going off clutching his arm. He remained on the bench, however, and shortly thereafter, Martin Bodak took a hooking call, and the US went to the power play. After a whistle around the Slovakia net, Slovakia started a tussle with 29 seconds left on the advantage, and 13 seconds left on the period. Surprisingly nothing was called, and then  yet another scuffle broke out.

After 40, the teams were tied at one apiece, though the shots were 27-13 for the host team as the game hauled itself from deathly dull to vaguely interesting through the second.

The USA started the third with a few seconds of power play time. They played with more intensity, but the Slovaks held down the fort. In the middle stages of the period Slovakia stepped up their game, forcing Woll to make a bunch of really strong saves. With 9:55 to go in the third, Riley Tufte drew a holding call. Slovakia's penalty kill was stellar, however, and they killed it off with what looked like ease.

Roman Durny made an absolutely amazing series of saves on Kailer Yamamoto and Casey Mittelstadt with about five minutes left, and then Slovakia stunned the USA by scoring with 4:45 to go. The goal was reviewed on the off chance that it had not actually crossed the line, but it remained good.

Max Jones collided with a Slovak player just inside the blue line, the stick remained on the ice, and on the next shift, it caused mayhem, causing the Slovakian defender to trip up, and then it looked like Mittelstadt had averted American disaster by scoring a Bobby Orr-esque goal with less than five minutes to go.

However, Samuel Bucek went the other way, wheeled around the net, and got his own rebound to give them back the lead with just over two minutes to go.

The lead would hold, and completed what is likely to be the upset of the tournament, Slovakia taking the game 3-2 in regulation, despite being out-shot 45-25. This win has huge implications for the pool, as Denmark now will have to beat Slovakia now (or pull off an even more unlikely upset against Canada) in order to avoid the relegation round.

Logan Brown got hurt in the first, played part of a shift in the second, but limped off the ice, and immediately to the room, which does not bode well for them in their game tomorrow against Canada.

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