There’s no rest for the wicked as a Slovakian team clashed with Team USA, just 24 hours after being held to six shots by Canada on Tuesday. Slovakia wasn’t able to generate any sort of offence in their first game, and allowed Canada’s power play to score at will, leading to a lopsided defeat.
The Americans, however, had a slow start against a resilient Latvian team, before turning it on in the final period and coasting to a 6-1 victory.
Despite owning the flow of play like they did against Latvia, and having an early power play, the Americans were unable to break down the Slovaks in the early going. It would be Tanner Lacznyski who got the Americans on the board first. With Matej Tomek sprawling in the crease, the Flyers prospect chipped a backhand past the netminder and put his team up 1-0.
A Slovak power play put the US side to the test and Toronto draft pick Joseph Woll was more than up to it, making several saves in rapid succession to deny Slovakia.
The combo of Colin White and Clayton Keller doubled the American lead late in the period. White threaded a gorgeous sauce pass to Keller who made no mistake.
Another look at Keller to white pic.twitter.com/iP7zoePWTs— Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) December 29, 2016
A feisty Slovak side did not leave the period empty-handed. With Jordan Greenway in the box they finally beat Woll and cut the lead in half. Martin Fehervary was left alone on the goal mouth and tapped in an easy goal at the end of the period.
While the US struggled to get started in the first period, they came out like a house on fire in the second. Captain Luke Kunin threw a massive open-ice hit on Oliver Pataky, shortly after they scored to put themselves up 3-1. Jack Roslovic sped into the zone, dished off to Kieffer Bellows, who found Tage Thompson in front of the net. Thompson spun 360 degrees and beat Tomek for the goal.
Gorgeous finish by Tage Thompson to make it 3-1 USA pic.twitter.com/cJ6G6GqJRa— Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) December 29, 2016
Bruins first-round pick Charlie McAvoy continued the US onslaught, when he unleashed a slap shot from the point that found its way through Tomek and put the Americans up 4-1. Troy Terry added to the avalanche of goals, going post-and-in to give Team USA a comfortable 5-1 lead with six minutes left in the period. After a closely contested opening period the US dominated the second, owning a 19-2 shot advantage.
The final period was one marked by a pair of delays, the first being to fix the ice behind the net where water had pooled up. The second being a lengthy review after Clayton Keller banked a pass off the Slovak goalie and it appeared to trickle over the line before being kicked out by a defender. In the end the video was inconclusive and the Americans maintained a 5-1 lead until the final minute. A knuckling shot by Milos Roman made its way past Woll, giving Slovakia a minor victory in defeat. The Americans fired 50 shots at Matej Tomek, while Slovakia improved their shot production, testing Joseph Woll 20 times.
Marian Studenich and Jack Roslovic were named player of the game for their respective countries. The Slovaks will have a day off on Thursday before they meet Latvia on Friday December 30th. The Americans face their biggest test of the tournament when they clash with Russia on Thursday afternoon.