The United States, winners of five-straight, closes preliminary-round play today here against winless Italy. All-time, the U.S. is 5-1-0-2-0 (W-OTW-OTL-L-T) against the Italians.
A regulation victory today will give the U.S. 18 points, which, with Finland's shootout win over Canada earlier today, means a regulation win over Italy will give the U.S. a first-place finish in Group B. Team USA can finish no worse than second in Group B.
A win today would also give the U.S. six regulation wins in group play for just the second time after first doing so in 2017. The most wins the U.S. has ever earned in a single IIHF Men's World Championship was 2015 and 2018 when the U.S. squads finished with eight wins (7reg, 1OT in 2015; 6reg, 2OT in 2018). Including overtimes and shootouts, the U.S. has won six games in group play three of the last five years.
2019: 3-1-0-2 (W-OTW-OTL-L); Seventh Place
2018: 4-2-0-1 (W-OTW-OTL-L); Bronze Medal
2017: 6-0-0-1 (W-OTW-OTL-L); Fifth Place
2016: 3-0-0-3 (W-OTW-OTL-L); Fourth Place
2015: 5-1-0-1 (W-OTW-OTL-L); Bronze Medal
QUARTERFINAL MATCHUPS DETERMINED TODAY
It will take the final day of preliminary-round play to determine who will join Finland and the United States in quarterfinal play from Group B. Canada, Germany, Kazakhstan and Latvia all still have a mathematical chance, though Kazakhstan will be watching as they've played all seven preliminary-round games.
In Group A, Sweden's 3-2 shootout loss to ROC last night finalized the group's four quarterfinalists: ROC (1st), Switzerland (2nd), Slovakia (3rd), Czech Republic (4). The final seedings are yet to be determined.
Today's game will feature a few current/future teammate connections between the U.S. and Italy.
One unique connection comes from Team USA's goaltending coach Kevin Reiter, who spent two seasons in Sterzing, Italy, as an assistant and goaltending coach for the WSV Sterzing-SSI Vipiteno Broncos. While there, he was tabbed head coach for the club's junior team, specializing in goaltender development. Three players from that junior team are now here with Italy, including Markus Gander, Ivan Deluca and Simon Pitschieler. In April 2012, Reiter served as goaltending consultant for the Italian Men's National Ice Hockey Team during the IIHF Men's World Championship in Helsinki, Finland, and Stockholm, Sweden, whose roster included current Italian forward Raphael Andergassen.
Additionally, U.S. alternate captain Matt Roy skated with Italian forward Alex Petan at Michigan Tech. Petan was captain for the Huskies in Roy's freshman season. That season (2014-15), the Huskies went 29-10-2, won the 50th Annual Great Lakes Invitational and reached the WCHA Tournament Championship game where they fell, 5-2, Minnesota State.