TAMPERE, Finland – Despite outshooting Czechia, 24-16, the U.S. Men’s National Team dropped a 1-0 decision here in preliminary round play at the 2022 IIHF Men’s World Championship.
“It was a good hockey game and we just weren’t able to finish,” said David Quinn, head coach of the U.S. Men’s National Team. “We’ve got an important game against Norway tomorrow and we’ll get some rest and be ready to go.”
The U.S. rattled off a pair of shots in the first five minutes of the game while on the power play. Kieffer Bellows (Edina, Minn.) put the first shot on net, but Ben Meyers (Delano, Minn.) had the best look moments later with a quick shot in front of the crease before Czechia netminder Karel Vejmelka made the save. Czechia broke through first, netting one 7:53 into the frame on a breakaway opportunity.
Andrew Peeke (Parkland, Fla.) sent a blast towards the net midway through the opening stanza but his shot was blocked aside. Team USA nearly tied it up in the final seconds of the period as Matt Boldy (Millis. Mass.) rang one off the post after an offensive zone draw, followed by Vejmelka blocking it away to deny a second chance.
Czechia had a good look on net 4:12 into the middle period off a one-on-one break, but U.S. goaltender Jeremy Swayman (Anchorage, Alaska) smothered the puck. Just more than a couple minutes later, the U.S. got its second power play and Ryan Hartman (Hilton Head, S.C.) sent a shot from inside the faceoff dot followed by a rebound opportunity from Alex Galchenyuk (Braintree, Mass.), but the U.S. wasn’t able to break through. Seconds after the penalty expired, Team USA kept it in the offensive zone and set up Bellows with a snap shot, but Vejmelka turned it away.
Swayman kept it at a one-goal game with a tough save off a shot from the slot with 3:45 to go. The U.S. yielded just seven shots on goal through two periods and recorded 15 of its own, but Czechia maintained a 1-0 lead headed to the third.
Hartman tee’d up a one-timer seconds into the third period but Vejmelka got a pad on it and sent the puck towards the boards. Team USA was called for a five-minute major just 2:07 into the period, but its penalty killers did a great job to keep the deficit at 1-0, including a save by Peeke in the crease with Swayman out of the net.
Swayman made another crucial save as he slid across the crease to stop a one-timer from his Boston Bruins teammate David Pastranak with just over 10 minutes remaining in the contest. The U.S. had a nice tic-tac-toe play on the power play with under six minutes to play, but a Czechia stick broke up a scoring chance for Seth Jones (Frisco, Texas). Swayman left the ice for an extra attacker with 2:31 to play and while the U.S. controlled play in the Czechia zone it could not get the equalizer.
The U.S. returns to the ice tomorrow for its last preliminary round game against Norway at 4:20 p.m. (9:20 a.m. ET). The game can be seen live on NHL Network.
NOTES: Jeremy Swayman (Anchorage, Alaska) was named U.S. Player of the Game … The U.S. outshot Czechia, 24-16 … The U.S. was 0-3 on the power play, while Czechia was 0-2… For more information about the 2022 IIHF Men’s World Championship, click here.