The United States had perhaps one of the biggest trap games in World Juniors history Thursday night.
With the impending outdoor game coming up in less than 20 hours the US was not on their game and Slovakia took advantage upsetting the USA 3-2 in Group A preliminary round play.
Many in the crowd thought the day had been saved for the US as Sabers’ prospect Casey Mittelstadt went around a defender and the goalie to tie the game up for the US with just over three minutes to go.
But Slovak forward Samuel Bucek answered right back and scored on an out of position Joseph Woll for the game-winning goal.
“People never really thought that we could beat the USA,” said Bucek, who also credited the strong play of goalie Roman Durny for the win. “But we did that because we played patient.”
Bucek also assisted on Slovakia’s two other goals.
The first period of play was unexciting and a disappointment for those in attendance. The US offense got off to an extremely slow start with only one shot on goal in the first eight minutes.
Brady Tkachuk got the US into a bit of groove with two good chances late in the period. His first chance was a shot that went off the post, followed up by an open shot in front of the net on the same possession.
The sluggish start continued in the second for the US and cost them as Slovakia converted on a 2-on-1 breakaway five minutes into the period. Filip Krivosik shot it in 5-hole on Woll for the goal. A few minutes later, Woll kept the game from getting out of hand, stopping Marian Studenic’s prime scoring chance.
Tkachuk finally converted on a chance with eight minutes to go in the period as Ryan Poehling found him in front of the net, tying the game at a goal apiece.
Krivosik got his second goal of the game when he backhanded it with five minutes left.
Tkachuk was disappointed in the showing for the United States but knows they must move on from it quickly.
“(Slovakia) played a really good game. Their goalie played amazing,” Tkachuk said. “It’s behind us now, we have to forget about and bring our A-game tomorrow.”
Durny, who plays for US coach Bob Motzko at St. Cloud State, made 43 saves for the Slovaks in the win.
The US has a quick turnaround as they face Canada Friday 3 p.m. at New Era Field for the first-ever outdoor game in World Juniors history.
Sweden beats the Czech’s
Alex Nylander and Marcus Davidsson both scored for Sweden in their 3-1 victory over the Czech Republic in the proceeding game.
Davidson scored the first goal six minutes in.
Nylander found Elias Pettersson on the power play to give the Swedes the 2-0 lead going into the first intermission.
The Czech Republic scored their lone at the hands of Filip Zadina on a power-play goal in the second period.
Nylander sealed the game in the third, as he rocketed in the pass from highly touted 2018 NHL Draft prospect Rasmus Dahlin.
Filip GUSTAVSSON made 24 saves for Sweden as they go to 2-0-0 in the tournament.
The Czech Republic falls to 1-0-1.