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.
As in their first game, the Americans got goals from different players.
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.
The opening goal came from 17-year-old Jack Eichel who took a nice feed from Ryan Hartman off the rush to beat Richard Sabol between the pads. 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 Slovakian end, but an American was chasing the puck. Sabol raced out to clear it away but missed. He had little choice but to turn and fall on it well out of his crease, earning a delay of game penalty.
Dan O’Regan snapped in a loose puck from close range as time expired, but 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 Milan 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 David Griger had one chance before the third member of the threesome, Martin Reway, made no mistake with the third chance, at 12:57.
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.
(Nathan can be reached at email@example.com)