In the last game of Group A at the 2022 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 World Championship, USA defeated Germany 10-2 at Fanatec Arena in Landshut.
The USA got two goals each from William Smith, Cole Spicer and captain Rutger McGroarty, who wouldn’t finish the game. Cruz Lucius had three assists. Daniel Assavolyuk and Lucas Hauf scored Germany’s goals in the third period.
“It’s difficult to keep up to the speed. In our league, the forecheck isn’t comparable,” said German defenceman Edwin Tropmann, who was chosen the team’s best player of the game. “We know we have to move our feet to get the puck out of the zone but it’s very difficult against the Americans.”
As a result, the USA finishes first in Group A with six points, and will remain in Landshut to face Latvia in the quarter-finals on Thursday. Germany finishes fourth without any points, and will travel to Kaufbeuren on Thursday to take on Sweden.
“We knew it wasn’t going to be an easy game,” said German coach Alexander Duck. “I think we showed too much respect to this team. We were too scared to play and maybe the wrong mindset at the beginning. But it’s good for the boys to see what elite hockey is, and this was a hockey lesson.”
“A lot of times, these kinds of games are hard to play and you can drift away from it, but I thought our guys still played as a team the whole game,” said U.S. head coach Adam Nightingale. “So now, it’s reset, have a good day of practice tomorrow and get ready for the real start of the tournament.”
The Americans wasted little time taking control of the game, opening the scoring in the first minute, going up two goals before the six-minute mark.
Lucius found McGroarty open in the slot – a recurring theme – just 44 seconds in.
“Starting the game, you always want to come out really fast and hard, and I think that’s what we did.,” said Lucius. “I think we had a really good breakout. I got the pass from Chesley, I skated hard, ‘Rut’ came in, found the soft spot, I found him, and the great goal-scorer that he is, he put the puck in the net.”
The Americans then had to kill off a penalty, but went back to the attack right after getting back to full strength. Jimmy Snuggerud sent a bouncing pass to Smith, who fired a shot from the left wing to the far side that Simon Wolf got his glove on, but the puck fell behind him and across the goal line.
They went up 13:17 after Ryan Leonard’s original shot from the slot rang off the crossbar, but the puck went to Seamus Powell, who then found Devin Kaplan in the slot, and he found space under the bar past a screened Wolf.
To start the second period, McGroarty once again got him self wide-open in front of the German goal. This time he converted a pass from Lane Hutson.
“I got the puck, hit Lane, he’s always going to make a play with the puck and he found Rut too,” said Lucius.” I think that’s the main goal for us it to come out starting fast.”
That was the start of a five-goal second period for the USA, with further goals by Cutter Gauthier, two straight by Spicer, and finally Charlie Stramel on a breakaway.
“They were both great passes,” Spicer said about his two goals. “One was from Kaplan, who I’ve been playing with all tournament, and the other from Cruzer (Lucius). Just great passes and I found ways to put them in the back of the net.”
After the score was 6-0, head coach Alexander Duck mercifully pulled Wolf, who had stopped 29 of 35 American shots. Philipp Dietl played the rest of the game.
“It’s very hard because they cycle all the time, so it’s very hard to stay with your man, and you end up out of position,” said German defenceman Niklas Hubner, who played 10 DEL games this season for ERC Ingolstadt. “I’ve played in the DEL and even that was not as hard as this because they skate a lot, shoot a lot, and they put on a lot of pressure, so it was very difficult to get the puck out of our zone.”
The German goal came midway through the third period during a lengthy stretch of power-play time. It started when McGroarty received a cross-checking minor and then after the whistle incurred an additional major penalty and game misconduct for cross-checking Marlon Braun in the face. While that penalty was in progress, Ryan Chelsea was called for goaltender interference, giving the Germans a 5-on-3 for two full minutes.
They didn’t score on that, but as McGroarty’s seven minutes were down to their last two, Assavolyuk deflected Philip Sinn’s point shot in.
The USA got goals from Seamus Casey and Smith to go up 10-1 before Hauf rounded out the scoring with 3:26 to go. Haus’ backhander snuck through Kenneth Augustine and crossed the goal line so narrowly that play initially continued, despite the cheers of the Landshut fans at that end. However, the play was reviewed at the next whistle and the goal was allowed.
“The U.S. took a step back in the third period and didn’t play the same game, but it was good to see our players not quit and score two goals,” said Duck.