COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Four U.S. goals in just 1:40 would be the deciding factor in creating an unsurmountable lead, as Team USA went on to defeat Slovakia, 8-2, tonight in their third game of the 2022 Athletix Five Nations Tournament at Ed Robson Arena in Colorado Springs, Colo.
“We had a great start,” said Dan Jablonic (Milwaukee, Wisc.), head coach of the U.S. Under-17 Select Team. “Our players came out fast, made some really good plays and the good thing with that is they were able to follow that up. It was a great team effort the entire game. We had the ability to use our speed, make plays, and we got rewarded.”
Team USA, which is currently undefeated, will play an undefeated Czechia tomorrow to determine the tournament’s first-place finisher at 7 p.m. local time (5 p.m. ET) at Ed Robson Arena. The game can be seen live on Hockey TV and tickets can be purchased here.
“Anytime you put yourself in the situation to come into a tournament and now play for the title is a really good feeling,” Jablonic added. “We're confident in our abilities but we also understand that Czechia that’s well respected and we get to show up tomorrow and earn that opportunity. We're incredibly excited for that.”
But tonight, it would be just 25 seconds before the U.S. scored its first of the game. Dallas Vieau (Hermantown, Minn.) fired a shot from the point and Andrew DellaSalla (Rye, N.Y.) tipped it in to take a 1-0 lead. John Stout (Minnetonka, Minn.) also picked up an assist on the play. Vieau made it 2-0 at the 12:57 mark with a powerplay goal. Connor Bewick (Gurnee, Ill.) sent the puck up the ice to Chase Stefanek (Yorba Linda, Calif.). Stefanek carried it into the zone and passed it to Vieau, who was able to get it past Slovakia’s Sebastian Bodnar.
DellaSalla scored his second of the game off a tic-tac-toe passing play between Mac Swanson (Anchorage, Alaska) and Geno Carcone (Woodstock, Ga.). DellaSalla was able to finish it off, sending the puck over the glove hand of the Slovakian goaltender.
Just 35 seconds later, Mac Swanson (Anchorage, Alaska) found the back of the twine off a pass from Vieau that came from behind the net. Swanson, net front, sent a one-timer top shelf. And 12 seconds after that, Will Zellers (Maple Grove, Minn.) intercepted a pass in the zone and made it 5-0 with a backhander. Slovakia scored one at the end of the first to bring the score to 5-1.
Gavin Cornforth (Milton, Mass.) scored the first of the second with a one-timer. Zellers and Aidan Park (Playa Vista, Calif.) each earned assists on the goal. And Bobby Bartell (Winnetka, Ill.) made it 7-1 at the 9:25 mark, with Carson Pilgrim (Warrod, Minn.) and Michael Risteau (Lakeville, Minn.) recording assists.
A late third period powerplay goal from Zellers, with Park and Cornforth picking up assists, made it 8-1. Then Slovakia scored one of their own to round out scoring at 8-2.
Thatcher Bernstein (Brookline, Mass.) earned his second win of the tournament, stopping 19 of 21 shots. Bodnar started in net for Slovakia before David Pohanka took his place towards the end of the first period.
The day opened with action between Czechia and Germany. The Germans struck first, and would maintain a 1-0 lead until Czechia scored early in the second period. Three more unanswered goals later, it was 4-1 in favor of Czechia, who heads into tomorrow’s game undefeated. Germany finished the tournament 1-0-0-3.
Samuel Kowalczyk saw his first action of the tournament, recording 16 saves on 17 shots for the Czechs. In net for Germany was Lennart Neisse, who made 35 saves on 39 shots.
NOTES: Team USA outshot Slovakia 43-21 … Team USA was 2-6 on the powerplay, while Switzerland was 1-4.