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U.S. Falls to Slovakia, 3-2, in Second WJC Tilt

12/28/2017, 8:30pm EST
By USA Hockey

U.S. faces Canada outdoors at New Era Field at 3pm ET

BUFFALO, N.Y. – Brady Tkachuk (St. Louis, Mo./Boston Univ.) and Casey Mittelstadt (Eden Prairie, Minn./University of Minnesota) both scored, but the U.S. National Junior Team fell to Slovakia, 3-2, here tonight in its second preliminary round game of the 2018 International Ice Hockey Federation World Junior Championship at KeyBank Center.

“Give Slovakia a ton of credit for their game plan and execution,” said Bob Motzko, head coach of the 2018 U.S. National Junior Team. “That said, at the end of the day it came down to our ability to execute. We hit a few posts, missed some open looks, the puck just didn’t bounce our way tonight. The great thing is we get to wake up tomorrow and get back at it right away in what we expect is going to be a tremendous environment.”

Team USA (1-0-0-1/W-OTW-OTL-L) will play Canada tomorrow at 3:00 p.m. ET at New Era Field in the first outdoor game in IIHF world championship history. Tickets for that game, as well as all other tournament games, are available here, and the game will be broadcast live on NHL Network.

The U.S. outshot Slovakia, 10-6, in the opening frame, but was unable to find the back of the net. Team USA’s best chance of the period came just past the midway point when Tkachuk curled off the right boards and fired a wrist shot past Slovakian goaltender Roman Durny but rang off the post and away from the net. 

In the second frame, U.S. goaltender Joseph Woll (St. Louis, Mo./Boston College) stood tall early with a pair of back-to-back saves to keep the game scoreless. At the 4:52 mark, Slovakia struck first when a blocked shot created a two-on-one opportunity that ended with Filip Krivosik tucking a wrist shot beneath Woll’s left arm for a 1-0 lead. 

Team USA evened the score at the 11:07 mark with a two-on-one opportunity of its own. The play started when Ryan Poeling (Lakeville, Minn./St. Cloud State Univ.) sped down the right wing and into the Slovak zone where he lifted a centering pass onto the stick of Tkachuk for him to cut inside and slide the puck between Durny’s legs for the tying goal. The U.S. continued to apply pressure with a flurry of scoring chances in the final five minutes but entered the second intermission with the score knotted, 1-1.

Both teams traded chances in the third period before Slovakia regained its lead with 4:51 remaining off a backhanded goal by Kirvoskik. The U.S. evened the score just 1:40 later when Mittlestadt converted on an individual effort. With Slovakia exiting their zone, Mittlestadt stole the puck at the offensive blue line, curled back towards the goal and deked a Slovakian defender before sliding the puck around an outstretched Durny to tie the game, 2-2.

With 2:08 remaining in the game, Slovakia made it 3-2 when Samuel Bucek skated through the slot and around the net before getting his own rebound attempt through a couple of U.S. players and into the net. Team USA pulled Woll for an extra attacker in the final minute, but saw its chances turned aside as time expired. 

Joseph Woll (St. Louis, Mo.) finished with 22 saves in his second game. 

NOTES: Brady Tkachuk was named U.S. Player of the Game... The U.S. outshot Slovakia, 45-25... Jim Johannson (Colorado Springs, Colo.) is serving as the general manager of Team USA for the eighth consecutive year ... Bob Motzko (St. Cloud, Minn.) is serving as head coach for the 2018 U.S. National Junior Team and joined behind the bench by assistant coaches Greg Brown (Scituate, Mass.), Grant Potulny (Grand Forks, N.D.), Kris Mayotte (Pittsburgh, Pa.) and Steve Miller (Littleton, Colo.) ... USA Hockey’s international council, chaired by Gavin Regan (Potsdam, N.Y.), vice president of USA Hockey, has oversight responsibilities for all U.S. national teams ... All U.S. games will be broadcast live on NHL Network

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U.S. Schedule

Date Opponent Location Result U.S. Player of Game
Wed., Dec. 20 Belarus
Pre-Tournament Game
Northwest Arena
Jamestown, N.Y.
W, 14-0 NA
Fri., Dec. 22 Sweden
Pre-Tournament Game
Erie Insurance Arena
Erie, Pa.
W, 3-1 Na
Tues., Dec. 26 Denmark
Preliminary Round
KeyBank Center
Buffalo, N.Y.
W, 9-0 Casey Mittelstadt
Thurs., Dec. 28 Slovakia
Preliminary Round
KeyBank Center
Buffalo, N.Y.
L, 2-3 Brady Tkachuk
Fri., Dec. 29 Canada
Preliminary Round
New Era Field*
Orchard Park, N.Y.
W (SO) 4-3 Casey Mittelstadt
Sun., Dec. 31 Finland
Preliminary Round
KeyBank Center
Buffalo, N.Y.
W, 5-4 Joey Anderson
Tues., Jan. 2 Russia
Quarterfinals
KeyBank Center
Buffalo, N.Y.
W, 4-2 Kieffer Bellows
Thurs., Jan. 4 Sweden
Semifinals
KeyBank Center
Buffalo, N.Y.
L, 2-4 Josh Norris
Fri., Jan. 5 Czech Republic
Bronze-Medal Game
KeyBank Center
Buffalo, N.Y.
W, 9-3 Trent Frederic

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