NHL Prospects Shine as USA Stomps Slovakia 5-2

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TORONTO, ON - DECEMBER 26: USA forward Clayton Keller (19) celebrates with team mates after scoring during a 6-1 win over Latvia during the World junior Hockey Championships on December 26, 2016, at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario. (Photo by Dan Hamilton/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
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Slovakia came into their second game against the USA battle hardened from their 5-0 thrashing the previous night against Canada.

A Tightly Contested First Period

After only managing 6 shots against Canada’s 44 over an entire 60 minutes. Slovakia was able to go toe-to-toe with the USA, trailing 2-1 after the first 20 minutes while only being out-shot 18-12.

The USA opened the scoring when Tanner Lacynski scored after whacking away at a rebound in front of goalie Matej Tomek.

The USA had speed that Slovakia couldn’t contain on the second american goal from Colin White. White was setup on a two-on-one rush created by teammate Clayton Keller. Arizona’s 2016 1st-rounder was able to blow past the defence as Andrej Hatala fell to the ice as Keller broke up the boards. Keller then sent the puck over to White for an easy tap in.

Slovakia’s offence finally got their first goal of the tournament from a well set up power-play. Moving the puck swiftly from the point down low over to Martin Fehervary for an open net look, making the game 2-1.

A One-Sided Second and Third Period

USA eased into their offence again in the second period, allowing only two shots on goalie Joseph Woll. The Americans led the shot total in the middle frame 19-2.

Tage Thompson scored his first goal of the tournament with a highlight reel play in front of the net. Thompson drifting from the side of the net to the middle facing up ice, received the pass from Jack Roslovic and simultaneously pulled the puck to the forehand tucking it past a sprawling Tomek.

Roslovic, who fed the puck to Thompson for the goal, already plays in the AHL with the Manitoba Moose.  The AHL rookie was able to provide some insight into what the future might hold for the Blues’ 2016 first rounder, having already played half a season against grown men, “He’ll do fine in the pros, the mixture of his hands with his size, it’s scary”

Tomek’s night didn’t get easier as the USA scored with a point-shot from Charlie McAvoy off the face-off and Troy Terry scored on the rush after cutting across the high slot and firing a shot post-to-post and in.

“I crossed the blue line and I thought the space I had was cutting to the middle, Coach has been harping on us to get more shots, so when I got there I took it” said Terry on his goal as well as the team’s offensive out put.

In the Third the puck rarely left Slovakia’s end as the game continued and Tomek was peppered with shots. Slovakia didn’t help themselves out late with multiple penalties.

One Last Goal

The crowd came to a roar in the final minute when Michal Roman scored the team’s second goal on their 20th shot, beating Woll with a long bomb slap shot from the blue line. The Leafs prospect stopped 18/20 shots.

Russia on Deck for USA

The USA win against Slovakia sets up a heavyweight match between the Americans and Russia for their third game of the tournament. The Americans certainly don’t need help getting excited for it.

“They’ve got a lot of skill, big bodies, they’re a physical team that plays with a lot of pace so it’s going to be a battle tomorrow and we’re looking forward to it” said team captain Luke Kunin. “U18’s we played them a few times and when I was with the program (USNTDP) we played them a few times, they’re a great team and they do a lot of things well to make it hard for their opponents, it’s going to be a good test for us.”

On participating in the historic rivalry, “it’s awesome, you know you watch it as a kid you and dream about it and for it to be here tomorrow it’s going to be real special” said the Wisconsin Badger

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