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U.S. Tops Slovakia, 10-2, in World Juniors Preliminary Round

By USA Hockey, 12/31/23, 10:00AM EST

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Team USA wins Group B; Will Play Latvia in Quarterfinals Tuesday

GOTHENBURG, Sweden — Captain Rutger McGroarty (Lincoln, Neb./University of Michigan/Winnipeg Jets) tallied a hat trick and was one of 16 players to contribute points, while Trey Augustine (South Lyon, Mich./Michigan State University/Detroit Red Wings) had 38 saves to lead the U.S. National Junior Team to a 10-2 win here today over Slovakia in its final preliminary round game of the 2024 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship.

“I thought we played extremely well overall,” said David Carle, head coach of the U.S. National Junior Team. “To kill that five-minute major was huge and Trey (Augustine) was great during that stretch and in the game overall. We’re continuing to build and now we’re on to the next phase with the quarterfinals.”

With the victory, Team USA won Group B and will face the Latvia in the quarterfinals on Tuesday (Jan. 2) at 5 p.m. local/11 a.m. ET.

HIGHLIGHTS

 

McGroarty opened the scoring 6:21 into the contest when he crashed the net, gathered the rebound off a shot from Oliver Moore (Mounds View, Minn./University of Minnesota/Chicago Blackhawks) and capitalized with a wrap-around goal to give Team USA a 1-0 lead. 

At the 8:57 mark, Slovakia’s Marian Mosko leveled the tally with a shot from the blueline that deflected off a U.S. stick and in. 

Just 1:16 later, Team USA regained the lead. Zeev Buium (San Diego, Calif./University of Denver) weaved through the Slovakian defense from the point and rifled a shot five-hole with a toe-drag release. Gavin Hayes (Westland Mich./Flint Firebirds/Chicago Blackhawks) and Sam Rinzel (Chanhassen, Minn./University of Minnesota/Chicago Blackhawks) added helpers on the play.

Trey Augustine (South Lyon, Mich./Michigan State University/Detroit Red Wings) was sharp in the period, making 11 saves, including a point-blank stop of Jozef Kmec with :30 left in the period and Slovakia in the middle of a five-minute power play.

Gavin Brindley (Estero, Fla./University of Michigan/Columbus Blue Jackets) scored short-handed to put Team USA up 3-1 just 29 seconds into the middle frame after picking up a loose puck in the defensive zone and going coast-to-coast, including dangling past a Slovakian defender before finishing with a top-shelf snipe.

With 2:10 remaining in the second, Filip Mesar made it a one-goal game, scoring a power-play goal on a wrist shot from the right circle that took a slight deflection off a skate and in.

Team USA responded with two quick goals in the following 1:03 of action. Will Smith (Lexington, Mass./Boston College/San Jose Sharks) found Ryan Leonard (Amherst, Mass./Boston College/Washington Capitals) in the slot, who blasted a shot glove-side into the top corner with just under two minutes to go.  McGroarty then picked up his second tally of the game to put the U.S. up 5-2 with 1:07 remaining in the frame, capitalizing with a one-timer off a cross-ice feed from Drew Fortescue (Pearl River, N.Y./Boston College/New York Rangers).

McGroarty completed a hat-trick 4:06 into the third period. Cutter Gauthier (Scottsdale, Ariz./Boston College/Philadelphia Flyers) made a spinning pass from behind the net to find McGroarty at the bottom of the right circle, who roofed it far-side to give Team USA a 6-2 lead. 

Isaac Howard (Hudson, Wis./Michigan State University/Tampa Bay Lightning) added to the tally at the 5:49 mark with a one-time blast from the top of the circles. Danny Nelson (Maple Grove, Minn./University of Notre Dame/New York Islanders) and Brindley recorded assists on the play.

At 9:15, Eric Pohlkamp (Brainerd, Minn./Bemidji State University/San Jose Sharks) extended the U.S. lead with a one-time slap shot from the point. Gauthier then made it 9-2 with 9:00 to go after batting home a rebound on the power play.

Howard picked up his second of the game with 7:42 remaining to cap off the 10-2 victory. 

NOTES: Rutger McGroarty was named U.S. Player of the Game … Team USA outshot Slovakia 44-40 … Team USA and Slovakia were both 1-3 on the power play … Eight players recorded multi-point games, including Rutger McGroarty (3-0—3), Cutter Gauthier (1-2—3), Lane Hutson (0-3—3), Isaac Howard (2-0—2), Gavin Brindley (1-1—2), Zeev Buium (1-1—2), Ryan Chesley (0-2—2) and Frank Nazar III (0-2—2). 

GAME PHOTOS

Trey Augustine Postgame Interview

Quinn Finley Intermission Interview

Team USA Roster

World Juniors Insider

World Juniors History

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