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GAMEDAY: Team USA Faces Slovakia to Open 2022 World Juniors Play

By USA Hockey, 12/26/21, 7:45AM EST

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RED DEER, Canada – The United States takes on Slovakia to open 2022 IIHF World Junior Championship play. The U.S. will look to rebound after dropping its lone pre-tournament contest, 4-3, in overtime. Team USA carried a 3-1 lead late into the third period, before Finland struck three times on a five-minute man advantage.

The U.S. received scoring from three different lines, a good sign of the team’s offensive strategy. Linemates Matty Beniers and Brett Berard connected on a third period goal, just nine seconds into the period, off a well-timed spin pass. The two forwards have played more than 10 years together, dating back to their youth hockey with the South Shore Kings. The two also played at times on a line together while at USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program.

Today’s matchup is a unique game for the Knies family. Forward Matthew Knies was born and raised in Phoenix, Ariz., but his family’s roots travel all the way to Slovakia. His mother, Michaela, and father, Miroslav, are originally from Bratislava, Slovakia. Knies and his brother, Phil, were raised with hockey in their lives at a very young age. Phil played for the USHL's Sioux City Musketeers where he won an Anderson Cup in 2017. Matthew played for the Tri-City Storm prior to the University of Minnesota.

Team USA will want to jump out to a quick tournament start, as they look to win their opening contest for the first time since the 2019 IIHF World Junior Championship in Victoria, B.C., a 2-1 win over Slovakia.

Today’s Opponent: Slovakia

The U.S. National Junior Team has a 14-0-0-4-1 (W-OTW-OTL-L-T) series record against Slovakia in the IIHF World Junior Championship. The U.S. has outscored Slovakia, 82-42, in 19 games. Team USA has won two consecutive games against Slovakia, including last year’s 5-2 quarterfinal win, and has won 11 of the last 13 matches between the two federations.

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