RIGA, Lativa – Colin Blackwell (North Andover, Mass.) and Conor Garland (Scituate, Mass.) scored twice and Cal Peterson (Waterloo, Iowa) made 27 saves to help the U.S. to a 6-1 win here over Slovakia in quarterfinal play at the 2021 IIHF Men’s World Championship.
The U.S., which has won seven straight games and was the top seed in the tournament coming out of the preliminary round, will play Canada on Saturday (June 5) at 7:15 a.m. ET in the semifinals. The game can be seen live on NHL Network.
“I’m just happy for the guys. We’re facing some adversity here with injuries, and to see that pull the group even closer, I couldn’t be prouder of them,” said head coach Jack Capuano. “We’ll see how tonight’s games shake out before knowing our next opponent, but our group is excited to know we have a chance to play for a medal and make some history.”
Team USA opened the game with a three-goal first period off goals from Brian Boyle (Hingham, Mass.), Blackwell and Garland. With 7:42 to play in the frame, Boyle opened the scoring when he collected a loose puck at his own blue line, skated the left wall, and fired a slapshot past Adam Huska’s glove, landing just inside the far-right post.
Blackwell converted from the slot just 2:17 later to double Team USA’s lead. The play started when Eric Robinson (Bellmawr, N.J.) took a pass in the neutral zone from Kevin Labanc (Staten Island, N.Y.), cut through the Slovakian defense, and tried feeding the puck back to Labanc. The puck bounced off his stick and bounced to a trailing Blackwell who wired the puck past Huska for his second goal in the tournament. With just :29 seconds left in the period, Garland extended Team USA’s lead to 3-0 when he fought off a Slovakian stick-check in the neutral zone, skated around a sliding Slovakian defenseman, and tucked a shot inside the near post.
The U.S. and Slovakia traded goals in the middle frame to make it a 4-1 game after 40 minutes of play. Slovakia converted 12:12 into the period when Peter Cehlarik tucked a shot past the shoulder of Petersen from the left dot. Four minutes later, Team USA answered when a tic-tac toe passing play from Robinson and Labanc that ended with a one-timer goal from Blackwell to give the line its second goal of the night.
In the final period, Sasha Chmelevski (Huntington Beach, Calif.) added to the U.S. lead 5:15 into the third period when he finished a three-way passing play with Christian Wolanin (Rochester, Mich.) and Boyle. With 1:15 left in the game, Moore ripped a shot that rebounded off the pad of Huska to Wolanin who found Garland on the left side to net his second goal of the night. With 27 saves, Petersen picked up his fourth win of the tournament.
NOTES: Colin Blackwell (North Andover, Mass.) was named the U.S. Player of the Game for the second time in the tournament… The U.S. outshot Slovakia, 33-28 … Each team was 0-2 on the power play … Brian Boyle (Hingham, Mass.) took over as captain of Team USA with Justin Abdelkader (Muskegon, Mich.) out indefinitely due to injury, while Colin Blackwell (North Andover, Mass.) and Matt Roy (Detroit, Mich.) are the squad’s alternate captains.