USA rolls past Slovaks

U18: Eichel gets three points in 6-2 win

24.04.2014
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Team USA is back in the hunt for gold. Photo: RIchard Wolowicz / HHOF-IIHF Images

LAPPEENRANTA – Matched up against Slovakia in the 2014 IIHF U18 World Championship quarter-finals, the United States cruised to a 6-2 victory and advanced to the semi-final round.

“They (the players) should feel good, we’re in the medal round now,” said head coach Danton Cole. “Now things get tougher though.”

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Slovakia did itself no favours in the opening minutes of the game, giving up a goal less than a minute in and then another on a two-man advantage.

The first goal came 54 seconds into the game when Slovak defenceman Mario Grman turned the puck over behind his net to Alex Tuch, who found forward Jack Eichel in front of the net. The Americans struck again two and a half minutes later, as Grman and Marco Halama sat in the box and watched as a point shot from John Macleod found its way to the back of the net.

“It’s definitely high right now,” said Eichel when asked about Team USA’s confidence level. “Our coaches do a great job preparing us for the games and I think that we’ve trained so hard for two years and we know what we have to do.”

After having a goal called off midway through the period, U.S. forward Anders Bjork got on the board with a shot from the slot area set up by Eichel. In fact the American offence was so dominant on the puck possession side that the Slovaks mustered just four shots on net.

Slovakia managed to get on the board in the third period thanks to a goal from Kristian Fertelak. But the Americans were quick to dispel any thought of a Slovak comeback, with a goal from John Macleod two minutes later to put the U.S. up 5-1.

Eichel, the one leftover player from last year’s silver medal-winning team, finished with a goal and two helpers, earning the Best Player award for the States. For him, a gold medal at the U18 is unfinished business, and 2014 the last chance to earn one.

“I’m definitely keen on getting one, I’ve been through a few of these tournaments and haven’t  gotten the outcome I wanted in all of them,” he said. “If I’m going to do it with one group it’s gonna be with this group, we’ve all sacrificed and went through so much adversity these past two years so it means a lot for us to win this.”

Germany – Denmark  3-2 (1-1, 1-1, 1-0)

Germany squeaked out a 3-2 win in the first game of the relegation round best-of-three series against Denmark. Stefan Loibl had the game winning goal in the third period.

Down 2-1 in the second, the Germans came back with a power play score from captain Andreas Eder. The teams went into the second intermission tied 2-2, and Loible scored with 8:40 left, assisted by Manuel Wiedere and Emil Qaas.

Game No. 2 of the relegation round takes place on Friday.

ADAM STEISS

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