TAMPERE – Luke Hughes (Canton, Mich.) scored the game-winner in overtime on a breakaway as the 2022 U.S. Men’s National Team scored three unanswered goals and defeated Austria, 3-2, here today in preliminary round play at the 2022 IIHF Men’s World Championship.
“I liked our mental toughness tonight,” said David Quinn, head coach of the 2022 U.S. Men’s National Team. “We got down 2-0 and Kieffer scored a big goal right after their second goal. We had a couple big blocks on the penalty kill in overtime and I was really proud we stuck together and ultimately came away with an important win.”
It was a defensive battle in the first five minutes as both teams exchanged possession and rattled off one shot a piece. Neither goalie was tested, until U.S. netminder Strauss Mann (Greenwich, N.H.) made a tough save short side followed up by another quick one right off the following draw.
Team USA put the pressure on just over eight minutes in, as a Riley Barber (Pittsburgh, Pa.) pass connected with Kieffer Bellows (Edina, Minn.) in front of Austrian netminder David Kickert who made the eventual save. Austria, however, gained momentum as it scored the first goal right as the team’s power play expired. The U.S. had a few good looks on a late power play opportunity, but could not even the game.
The U.S. was in control for the majority of the second period and had a 14-4 shots-on-goal advantage. Sam Lafferty (Hollidaysburg, Pa.) nearly beat Kickert with a point-blank shot in the slot with 7:00 to go, but the Austrian netminder smothered the puck.
Austria extended its lead to two with 5:34 left in the period, but Bellows wrapped around the net and backhanded a shot top shelf from the goal line to make it 2-1. Ben Meyers (Delano, Minn.) fed Bellows and Jaycob Megna (Northbrook, Ill.) also drew an assist on the play.
With 20 minutes left to try and tie things up, Team USA had an early power play opportunity to do just that. Chances came as Adam Gaudette (Braintree, Mass.) rang one off the post followed by a shot in the slot by Seth Jones (Frisco, Texas), but the deficit remained.
Back with another power play opportunity nearly midway through the period, the U.S. took advantage and tied the game. Jones found Alex Galchenyuk (Milwaukee, Wis.) and sent a feed to Gaudette who ripped a shot from the top of the faceoff circle past Kickert at 8:43, just :20 into the man advantage.
Austria had a late power play chance in regulation that carried into overtime, but a stingy U.S. defense, highlighted by blocked shots from Jones and Nate Schmidt (St. Cloud, Minn.) helped keep the game even.
That set the stage for Hughes. Sean Farrell (Hopkinton, Mass.) forced a defensive zone turnover and made a touch pass that sent Team USA’s youngest player up a full sheet of ice all alone, and he buried the game-winner 3:07 into the extra session.
Mann started in net for the U.S. and made 14 saves in the victory.
The U.S. will play again tomorrow, facing host Finland at 8:20 p.m. (1:20 p.m. ET). The game can be seen live on NHL Network.
NOTES: Adam Gaudette (Braintree, Mass.) was named U.S. Player of the Game … The U.S. outshot Austria, 39-16… Team USA was 1-for-4 on the power play, while Austria was 0-for-3… For more information about the 2022 IIHF Men’s World Championship, click here.