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U.S. Junior Select Team Opens World Jr. A Challenge with 6-1 Win Over Slovakia

By USA Hockey, 12/11/23, 5:45PM EST

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TRURO, Nova ScotiaJames Reeder (Glenview, Ill.) netted a hat trick and Mac Swanson (Anchorage, Alaska) tallied a trio of assists to lift the U.S. Junior Select Team to a 6-1 win over Slovakia in its opening preliminary round game of the 2023 World Jr. A Challenge at Rath Eastlink Community Centre on Monday.

"I thought our team got off to a great start," said Matt Smaby (Minneapolis, Minn.), head coach of the U.S. Junior Select Team. "Our first period was the brand of hockey we want to play, but we got away from our game in the second period. Heading into tomorrow, it will be critical for us to focus on playing our game for 60 minutes. I look forward to watching our group continue to grow and improve throughout the tournament."

Team USA found the back of the net just over a minute into the contest. Swanson won an offensive zone puck battle along the boards and found Reeder, who beat the goaltender with a low, glove-side shot.

The U.S. jumped to a 2-0 lead at 2:32 in the first period after Jack Phelan (Hinsdale, Ill.) fired off a shot from the top of the circle, with Joe Connor (Amherst, N.H.) and Gavin Lindberg (Fergus Falls, Minn.) picking up helpers on the play.

GAME PHOTOS

Beckett Hendrickson (Minnetonka, Minn.) capitalized on a power play opportunity to put the U.S. ahead 3-0 when he tipped a shot from Chris Pelosi (Sewell, N.J.) at 9:25 in the opening frame.

The U.S. successfully killed off a pair of penalties to start the second period, and goaltender Hampton Slukynsky (Warroad, Minn.) remained strong in net. 

Reeder notched his second goal of the game to give Team USA at 4-0 lead at 8:05 in the middle stanza. Trevor Connelly (Tustin, Calif.) retrieved the puck behind the Slovakian net and threaded a pass through the slot for Swanson. He found Reeder across the crease on the goal line, who was able to pick the top corner.

Minutes later, Adam Beluško got Slovakia on the board for its first tally of the match.

Late in the second, Slukynsky stopped a breakaway to send the U.S. into the third period with a 4-1 lead in tow.

At 13:40 in the third period, Reeder completed his hat trick with a breakaway goal, assisted by Swanson and Elliot Groenewold (Bellows Falls, Vt.).

Finn Brink (Maple Grove, Minn.) extended the U.S. lead at 16:55 in the final frame after he tapped in a rebound from Brandon Svoboda (Level Green, Pa.) for a final score of 6-1.

Slukynsky finished with 15 saves in the U.S. net.

NOTES: James Reeder was named the U.S. Player of the Game … Team USA outshot Slovakia 37-16 … Team USA was 1-5 on the power play, while Slovakia was 0-5 … For Team USA’s roster and schedule, click here.

2023 WJAC

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