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U.S. Tops Slovakia, 5-2, at World Juniors

12/28/2016, 7:45am EST
By USAHockey.com

Five Different Players Net Goals

TORONTO – Five different players scored and 12 players in total tallied points to lead the U.S. National Junior Team to a 5-2 victory over Slovakia here tonight at Air Canada Centre in its second preliminary-round game of the 2017 International Ice Hockey Federation World Junior Championship.

“Our guys came to play and it was nice to see them get rewarded,” said Bob Motzko (St. Cloud, Minn./St. Cloud State University), head coach of the 2017 U.S. National Junior Team. “Nobody’s satisfied though and I think that’s the right attitude as we continue here in the tournament. We know our best hockey is yet to come and we’ll look for more improvements tomorrow versus Russia.”  

Team USA (2-0-0-0) returns to action tomorrow (Dec. 29) against Russia. Puck drop is set for 3:30 p.m. ET and will be televised live on NHL Network.

Highlights

Post Game Comments

Tanner Laczynski (Shorewood, Ill./Ohio State University) opened the scoring for the U.S. 10:15 into the game when he swiped home his own rebound just outside the crease off an initial pass from Joe Cecconi (Youngstown, N.Y./University of Michigan). 

Team USA doubled its lead with three minutes left in the frame when Colin White (Hanover, Mass./Boston College) netted his second goal in as many games on an odd-man rush. Clayton Keller (St. Louis, Mo./Boston University) entered the zone on the left wing and flipped a saucer pass to a streaking White, who one-timed the puck past Slovakian netminder Matej Tomek for the score.

Slovakia cut the U.S. advantage in half with 1:52 remaining in the stanza on a power-play marker by Martin Fehervary. 

Team USA took control of the contest in the middle frame, netting three goals and outshooting Slovakia, 18-2. Tage Thompson (Orange, Conn./University of Connecticut) began the scoring 2:03 into the period when he collected a pass in front of the net by Kieffer Bellows (Edina, Minn./Boston University), turned to his forehand and lifted the puck past Tomek glove-side.

Charlie McAvoy (Long Beach, N.Y./Boston University) made the score 4-1 at 8:39 of the second period when he one-timed a shot from the point off a pass from Jack Roslovic (Columbus, Ohio/Manitoba Moose). Just 1:36 later, Troy Terry (Highlands Ranch, Colo./University of Denver) accounted for Team USA’s fifth goal of the game with a power-play marker from the slot.

Michal Roman tallied with :37 remaining for Slovakia to account for the 5-2 final.

Joseph Woll (St. Louis, Mo./Boston College) made 18 saves while backstopping Team USA to the victory.

NOTES: Jack Roslovic was named U.S. Player of the Game … Team USA outshot Slovakia, 50-20, and finished 1-for-5 on the power play and 1-for-2 on the penalty kill ... For full game stats, click here ... At the 2017 IIHF World Junior Championship, the U.S. is competing in Group B alongside Canada, Latvia, Russia and Slovakia. All U.S. games will be broadcast live on NHL Network ... For complete coverage of Team USA at the 2017 IIHF World Junior Championship, click here …  Use the hashtag #USAWJC on Twitter to join the conversation about the 2017 U.S. National Junior Team.

U.S. Roster

2017 U.S. Schedule

Date Opponent Time (ET)/Result Round Location
Dec. 21 Switzerland W, 4-3 Pre-Tournament Oshawa, Ont.
Dec. 23 Czech Republic W, 4-0 Pre-Tournament Kingston, Ont.
Dec. 26 Latvia W, 6-1 Preliminary Toronto, Ont.
Dec. 28 Slovakia W, 5-2 Preliminary Toronto, Ont.
Dec. 29 Russia 3:30 p.m. Preliminary Toronto, Ont.
Dec. 31 Canada 3:30 p.m. Preliminary Toronto, Ont.
Jan. 2 TBD TBD Quarterfinals TBD
Jan. 4 TBD TBD Semifinals Montreal, Que.
Jan. 5 TBD 3:30 p.m. Bronze Medal Montreal, Que.
TBD 8:00 p.m. Gold Medal Montreal, Que.

Pre-Game Information

THE SERIES VS. SLOVAKIA
Team USA and Slovakia will face off for the 15th time in tournament play. Their last meeting occured at the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship, where the U.S. shut out Slovakia, 3-0, with goals from John Hayden, Dylan Larkin and Sonny Milano at the Bell Centre in Montreal. All-time, Team USA leads Slovakia in the series with an 11-0-0-3-1 (W-OTW-OTL-L-T) record.

SCORING BY COMMITTEE
On Monday (Dec. 26), 11 different U.S. players register at least one point. Including the two pre-tournament games, 16 different players have registered a point to date as each U.S. game has seen at least seven players reach the scoresheet. 

In tournament play, Clayton Keller (2-0), Colin White (1-1), Troy Terry (0-2) and Tage Thompson (0-2) share the team lead team with two points apiece. Including last year’s event, White now has nine points, including four goals and five assists, through eight tournament games.

SMALL AREA GAMES UTILIZED BY TEAM USA
Yesterday, Team USA’s practice at the MasterCard Centre culminated with head coach Bob Motzko (St. Cloud, Minn./St. Cloud State University) having the players take part in small area games, a staple of USA Hockey’s American Development Model. 
    “There’s just so many positives to having the guys go through those small area games,” said coach Motzko. “It’s a good way for me to get these guys in game-like situations making quick decisions with the puck on their stick in a competitive environment.”

QUARTET OF USNJT-ELIGIBLE ALUMNI IN THE NHL
After settling into the Toronto surrounding, a few players were able to catch up with Auston Matthews, a two-time U.S. National Junior Team member (2016 - bronze; 2015) who became the seventh American to be selected first overall when the Toronto Maple Leafs called his name at last year’s draft. Matthews is one of four former U.S. National Junior Team members playing in the NHL that skated at USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program and were still eligible for this year’s team, including Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Noah Hanifin (2015); Calgary Flames forward Matthew Tkachuk (2016 - bronze) and Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Zach Werenski (2016 - bronze, captain; 2015).
    “I think it’s great for us because we have so many players that are developing at an early age and making such an impact at the NHL,” said Jim Johannson, general manager of the 2017 U.S National Junior Team and USA Hockey’s assistant executive director of hockey operations. “It’s a tribute to all those players and the level of play they’ve gotten to. I think it’s a compliment to USA Hockey that we’re dealing with the numbers we’re dealing with and now it’s a reality of the game."

BEHIND-THE-SCENES: TEAM USA GAMEDAY
Before Team USA's first game of the 2017 IIHF World Junior Championship, USA Hockey followed the team for an inside look at the preparations that take place on game day. To see the video and timeline of a game day with Team USA, click here.

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