As was expected, Team USA rolled over Team Slovakia 5-2 on Wednesday in the 2017 IIHF World Junior Championship.
Slovakia had a brutal game on Tuesday against Canada where they faced over 80 shot attempts from the Canadians. They played better and were not hemmed into their own zone for the majority of the game, but the United States has a superior talent pool and it showed.
The United States held a large shots advantage, 50-20. The shots were 18-12 in favor of the Americans after 20 minutes in what was a relatively level game, but Team USA put the pedal to the metal in the second period to find enough offense to win.
After notching two assists in the opener against Latvia, UConn Huskies sophomore Tage Thompson was moved from the top line with Clayton Keller and Colin White down to the second line, playing right wing with Jordan Greenway and Luke Kunin. He didn’t take the demotion to heart, scoring for the United States in the second period.
On Tuesday, it was a drubbing from start to finish for Slovakia, with UConn freshman Adam Huska facing more than one shot attempt per minute. The Slovakians opted for North Dakota product Matej Tomek in this one, but the goals still found the back of the net for the United States, even though it was a less dominating performance.
Team USA led 2-1 after one period, with Slovakia’s goal coming on the power play with 1:52 remaining in the first period, as opposed to late in the third period against Canada.
Thompson brought the American lead back to two goals just 2:03 into the second period with a fantastic goal. Jack Roslovic fed the puck to Keiffer Bellows in the middle of the slot, who found Thompson just to the left of the crease. One pretty move later, the puck was in the back of the net for a 3-1 advantage, a goal that would end up being the game-winning goal.
Gorgeous finish by Tage Thompson to make it 3-1 USA pic.twitter.com/cJ6G6GqJRa— Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) December 29, 2016
Boston University defenseman Charlie McAvoy scored at 8:39 of the second period with an absolute rocket from the blue line and Troy Terry made it 5-1 just 4:18 later to complete the scoring.
Team USA plays Russia their next time out on Thursday, with puck drop coming at 3:30 p.m. Slovakia has arguably their biggest game, against Latvia. The winner of this game will likely avoid last place in Group B, which means avoiding the relegation series and advancement to the medal round. That game is at 7:30 p.m. on Friday.
Tage Thompson was named player of the game for his goal, which proved to be the game-winner.