EDMONTON, Alberta -- The U.S. National Junior Team, behind two goals from John Farinacci (Red Bank, N.J.), earned a 5-2 victory over Slovakia here tonight in quarterfinal play of the 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship. With the win, the U.S. advances to the tournament semifinals where it will face Finland on Monday (Jan. 4) at 9:30 p.m. ET. The game will be broadcast live on NHL Network.
“It was a good game, and hats off to Slovakia who made it a really tough game,” said head coach Nate Leaman (East Greenwich, R.I.). “I’m proud of the way we got through it, and we’re on to the next phase.”
Team USA scored the only goal of the opening period on the power play at 10:44 when Arthur Kaliyev (Staten Island, N.Y.) wristed one past Simon Latkoczy from the bottom of the left circle after a nifty no-look pass from Matt Boldy (Millis, Mass.), who was just below the goal line on the opposite side. Trevor Zegras (Bedford, N.Y.), who leads the 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship in both points and assists, also drew an assist on the play. Spencer Knight (Darien, Conn.) made five saves in the period, including stopping a couple of good chances from the slot on Slovakia’s second power play of the period.
The U.S. took a 2-0 advantage at 11:55 of the second period when Ryan Johnson’s (Irvine, Calif.) shot from the left point deflected twice on its way to the back of the net, first off Farinacci’s leg in the slot and then off a Slovak defender. With a 5-on-3 advantage, Cole Caufield (Stevens Point, Wis.), celebrating his birthday tonight, wristed one home from the right circle at 16:53 to put the U.S. ahead 3-0. Zegras recorded the only assist on the play. Slovakia got on the board with 1:28 left in the stanza when Matej Kaslik fired one home from the right dot to break a tournament-record shutout streak by Team USA of 218:53. Both Caufield and Alex Turcotte (Chicago, Ill.) had breakaways in the early part of the period, but were stopped.
Team USA started strong in the third period with five shots on goal in the first two minutes. Zegras was foiled on a point blank chance just 20 seconds into the stanza, as was Turcotte off the rebound of Zegras’ shot. Slovakia cut the lead to 3-2 at 9:50 on the power play when Dominik Sojka deflected Samuel Knazko shot from the far left point. Farinacci re-established the two-goal advantage when he came out from behind the net and jammed the puck on the backhand past Latkoczy at 15:46. Bobby Brink (Minnetonka, Minn.) had the lone assist. Matthew Beniers (Hingham, Mass.) finished the scoring with an empty net goal at 18:36 with Brink drawing an assist.
Knight made 16 saves to pick up his third win of the 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship.
NOTES: John Farinacci, who in addition to his two goals won 10-of-14 faceoffs, was named the U.S. Player of the Game …. Team USA has advanced to the semifinals of the IIHF World Junior Championship for the fifth time in the last six years … Team USA outshot Slovakia, 43-18 … The U.S. was 2-4 on the power play, while Slovakia was 1-3 … The U.S. and Finland have met in the tournament semifinals just once previously, with the U.S. earning a 2-1 win in 2004. The U.S. is in the semifinals for the 16th time and has a 5-1-1-8 (W-OTW-OTL-L). Team USA won its last semifinal game by a 2-1 count over Russia in 2019.