As US head coach Nate Leaman said after his team's New Year's Eve victory over Sweden, "It's a new tournament now."
On Saturday evening, the USA met Slovakia with a place in the semifinals of the IIHF Junior World Championship 2021 on the ice. It ran away with a much closer than it looks 5-2 win. It was quite a turning point compared to last year when the Americans were shut out to pack in the quarter-finals. Eight players are back from this squad and didn't want to go home early.
One of those returnees, Arthur Kaliyev, started the party in the first period. He sat wide open behind the door in a power game and easily threw in the puck for his second goal of the tournament. Cole Caufield, who turned 20 on Saturday, also got his second part of the 2021 tournament and also with the man advantage when he fired an evil wrister that ran out for the eventual game winner. Between those goals was one of a combination of newcomers when Ryan Johnson's point shot from John Farinacci went off. The Coyotes prospect added his second goal in the third half with a nice backhand wrap to give the Americans a two-goal cushion. Matthew Beniers iced up the game with an empty nice guy.
"We had a good pre-exam and I chipped it to Bobby (Brink) and then it kind of got caught behind the net there and I saw the D go off the net front and I was just trying to wrap it around and luckily she went in. " Farinacci said about his insurance goal.
Farinacci and his roommates Bobby Brink and Brett Berard dominated all night.
"They know how to stay on pucks, they know how to hunt, they know how to get on the net," Leaman said of his third line after the game. "It's a simple game. They don't make the game difficult for themselves, they make the game easy and by keeping it simple they're all on the same page … They have good chemistry. It's fun, it to see. "
For the Americans, however, it was difficult for a while. They had a chance to finish the game 1-0 in the second game, but Slovak netminder Simon Latkoczky was on fire when he robbed Caufield and Alex Turcotte in outbreaks. Latkoczky stopped 38 of 42 shots he faced. Team USA took a 3-1 lead, but the Slovaks made it a one-goal game that was diverted perfectly by a single Dominik Sojka in the power play. It seemed like they were destined to tie the game by Farinacci by the second time.
"When they scored the second goal, I liked the way the coach said we reacted well and that just added a bit of urgency," said Ryan Johnson. "I think the goal gave us a little wake up call that we need to fight a little more."
Spencer Knight was back in the net when he stoned the Slovaks from the slot with an uncomfortable number of shots. The first goal of the Slovaks by Matej Kaslik towards the end of the second half ended the runaway streak of the Americans with a junior world record of 218: 53. Knight and Dustin Wolf connected with a goalkeeper in the net for 245: 07 of the shutout time.
Trevor Zegras threw in two assists and took over the lead of the tournament from Canada's Dylan Cozens with 15 points. This sum also puts him on the list of US singles tournaments and connects him with Hall of Famer Mike Modano. He now has nine assists, matching his number (and total points) from last year, putting him one point behind Jeremy Roenick on USA Hockey's World Juniors scoreboard.
The US was again without Patrick Moynihan; Moynihan had to sit out for a second in a row with an injury. The prospect of Devils had a late, high (and, as many would say, dirty) hit against Austria (the player was banned from the hit two games) and was tossed around against the Czechs. Moynihan could be available if the Americans advance.
Speaking of pesky Finns from last year, the eight American returnees will get a chance for ultimate revenge because on Monday (9:30 p.m. ET, NHL Network / TSN) it will be Finland versus the United States in the semi-finals.
Sporting News had all the action as the United States advanced to the semi-finals with their grand win over the Slovaks.
(All times east)
USA vs. Slovakia score, highlights from the quarterfinals of the World Juniors 2021
Third period: USA 5, Slovakia 2
12:59 p.m. – EN ZIEL. The Slovaks pull their goalkeeper 1:31 to the left and seven seconds later Matthew Beniers hits to freeze him. USA leads 5-2.
12:57 pm – A diver Drew Helleson cancels a pass.
12:54 p.m. – GOAL. Farinacci has the puck behind the net, comes out and hits the backhand. USA leads 4-2.
12:52 pm – The Americans are in control of the game by just over five minutes when Cole Caufield gets two decent looks – one who fell off the post.
12:44 p.m. – Just under nine minutes and it's a one-goal game. USA shoot against Slovaks 35-16.
12:40 p.m. – PP-ZIEL. After five seconds in the power play, Samuel Knazko stops the clearing pass and sends the puck to Dominik Sojka, who is wide open in the left circle for forwarding. USA leads 3-2.
12:39 pm – Cam York makes a great block, but the puck goes straight to the slot and Spencer Knight makes it big with a straight shot.
12:38 pm – Helleson called to stumble. The Slovaks embark on their third power game. So far they are 0-2 with two shots in the network.
12:25 p.m. – The third period begins and again the Americans have some good chances within the first 20 seconds when he robbed Turcotte on the rebound.
Second period: USA 3, Slovakia 1
12:04 p.m. – With this goal, the American shutout series ends at 245: 07 with a goalkeeper in the net and a junior shutout series record of 218: 53 (achieved by Russia's Leer-Netter at Christmas to Kaslik's goal).
12:03 p.m. – FINISH. Puck somehow gets to Matej Kaslik and fires the one-timer who beats Spencer Knight. USA leads 3-1.
12:00 p.m. – PP-ZIEL. Birthday boy Cole Caufield goes down from the right circle. USA leads 3-0.
11:58 pm – – Trevor Zegras is hit late and seems a little shaken, but the Americans are now 5v3. Zegras seems fine and stays out for the two man advantage.
11:57 pm – – Americans go to the power game when Roman Faith receives a bad punishment.
11:57 pm – – John Farinacci saw the faceoff up close, but it's spot on for Simon Latkoczy.
11:52 p.m. – – Martin Chromiak rings the bell when the Slovaks respond with a good zone time on the goal.
11:50 pm – – GOAL. Ryan Johnson sends the puck into the net and with four guys in between (two Slovaks and two Americans) it goes off John Farinacci and in. USA leads 2-0.
11:48 pm – – The Americans are getting close to the Slovak defender, but of course Latkoczy is there. He's got a game.
11:45 p.m. – – USA gets a power game.
11:38 pm – – Another outlier for Team USA when the Slovak defender falls on the blueline and Alex Turcotte is robbed by Simon Latkoczy.
11:37 pm – – Random minors and it'll be 4-on action for two minutes.
11:34 pm – – Slovakia keeps up the pressure in the offensive zone and Spencer Knight makes a good stop in traffic.
11:32 pm – – Cole Caufield flies and gets a runaway, but the birthday boy gets blocked and can't sneak in the ricochet.
11:30 p.m. – – The second period is a breeze. Zegras is fine and back on the ice.
First period: USA 1, Slovakia 0
11:11 pm – – The first period is coming to an end.
- The US has now eliminated opponents for 200 minutes and 21 seconds. With a goalkeeper in the net (since Dustin Wolf replaced Spencer Knight against Russia) it is 226: 35 without a goal.
11:10 p.m. – – Trevor Zegras gets up when he enters the Slovak Zone and goes straight back to the US bank. The hit hit him a little on the chin. He seems fine on the bench.
11:04 pm – – Seconds after the Americans killed the penalty kick, Spencer Knight robbed Roman Faith in the slot. Faith grabs his head in disbelief.
11:02 pm – – Spencer Knight makes a good stop on the penalty shootout.
11:01 pm – – Landon Slaggert demanded 2 + 10 for a hit on the head.
10:55 p.m. – PP-ZIEL. It's an "Arty Party" as Arthur Kaliyev stays wide open at the back door – how wide open – and he hits. The USA lead 1-0.
10:54 p.m. – – USA gets a power game. The Americans are 6 against 15 with the man advantage.
10:47 pm – – The United States go to penalties; You have not yet given up a power play goal in the tournament (5v5). They would kill that one and now 6 against 6.
10:44 p.m. – – John Farinacci is pushed up against the boards and goes down the tunnel.
10:40 p.m. – – Scramble in front of the Slovak network but cannot finish. Simon Latkoczy is online for the Slovaks.
10:38 pm – – As the referee in the middle of the ice says, "Let's have a good time here."
9:20 pm – – Lines.
9:10 p.m. – – Some notes to get you ready.
World Juniors 2021: The latest news
- Time, TV channel, live stream, where, when, schedule
- How did COVID-19 affect the tournament?
- Rosters, NHL draft status, jersey numbers for all 10 teams
- Breakdown of prospects for all NHL teams
- Predictions: Hockey experts choose who wins gold
- It's gold or broke: NHL players look back on memories of the Junior World Championship
- A team-by-team guide to the U20 championship
- Roof, Caufield, and the four best storylines
- Oilers' Philip Broberg impresses with three assists for Sweden
- Senator Tim Stuetzle scores two goals in the German overtime victory
- Predictions, odds, x-factors, mishaps for quarterfinals
- Leafs prospect Roni Hirvonen sends Finland into the semi-finals with a late goal
United States of America