USA wins again
by Andy Potts|17 MAY 2023
Team USA's Drew O'Connor keeps the puck away from Austria's Peter Schneider during the teams' 2023 World Championship game in Tampere, Finland.
The USA continued its winning start to the 2023 World Championship. A 4-1 verdict over Austria sees David Quinn's team stretch its perfect start to four games. Goals from Rocco Grimaldi, Carter Mazur and a memorable Lane Hutson effort did the damage before Nick Perbix added an empty-netter.

Although Team USA is unbeaten so far in Finland, it hasn’t tended to blitz teams from the puck drop. That continued today, with a goalless first period offering few chances for the Americans. Despite two power plays in the first 20 minutes, there was little work for Bernhard Starkbaum in the Austrian net after an early glove save from T.J. Tynan. At the other end, Thomas Raffl had Austria’s best look midway through the stanza. He got free in the left-hand circle, but he couldn’t get his wrist shot on target.

"They brought it to us in the first period," admitted Perbix. "Austria has a good team, but we expected that. It wasn't a surprise for us."

Alex Tuch also gave credit to the Austrians, who battled gamely in an ongoing search for a first victory of the tournament.

"They played a good team defensive game," he said. "It was tough for us to break through until toward the end of the second period. We just stuck to our game plan. And we continue to just try to get some wins against some good teams."

The opening goal arrived in the 27th minute. Connor Mackey sent the puck into the corner for Nick Bonino, who went around the back and emerged to shoot across the face of the net. Grimaldi was revelling in the absence of defensive cover at the back door and went short side to beat Starkbaum. It was the first time in this tournament that team USA had opened the scoring in a game.

Austria got its first power play of the game in the 37th minute and duly converted that into a tying goal. The play was a replica of yesterday’s PP tally against Denmark, with Peter Schneider going cross-ice to Raffl at the back door. This time the Austrian captain got his stick on it, rather than his skate, and made it 1-1.

"We did a good job hanging in there," said Austria's Dominique Heinrich. "We got the tying goal to make it 1-1 and then that gave us a little bit of hope.

"In the end, we gave up goals a little bit too easy. That happened to us in the game against Denmark as well. But overall, I think we can take away a lot of positive from the game today."

Parity was short-lived. The Americans responded immediately with another contribution from its college contingent. Carter Mazur, a Red Wings prospect who spent much of last season with the University of Denver, collected a Tynan feed from the boards and set himself in the deep slot before fizzing a wrister to the blocker side.

Austria had a great chance to tie it up again before the intermission, but Cal Petersen was alert to get a big stick in the way of Schneider’s dangerous cross-ice feed towards Dominic Zwerger in front of the U.S. net.

That proved to be Austria’s last chance to salvage something from this game. At the start of the third, Team USA extended its lead through a highlight-reel Hutson marker. The young defender took possession deep in his own zone and just kept advancing. The Austrian D was caught flat and after squeezing the puck through Steven Strong's legs, Hutson was able to stretch his stick and shovel his finish through the fivehole of the advancing Starkbaum.

"That was pretty special, honestly, and it looked pretty easy!" said an impressed Alex Tuch. "When he takes his helmet off and he's barely sweating, you can see how in condition these kids are nowadays and how ready they are to play pro-style hockey.

"He dominates college. He's going dominate college again next year, and it's gonna be really exciting to see what he does in the NHL."

However, Heinrich felt the Austrian defence needed to ask more questions of the rising star. "He's a pretty special player, obviously," said the Austrian alternate captain. "But I think we made it a little bit too easy on him. It was a little bit of a lucky bounce. It is what it is."

Then came a flurry of chances at both ends. Petersen denied Schneider, then saw his post keep out Zwerger on the follow up. Play went down the ice and Starkbaum made a big pad save to stop Conor Garland before getting his glove up high to rob Michael Eyssimont.

Next, Austria had a penalty shot after Mazur tripped Wolf as he bore down on Petersen. Zwerger took the shot, but fired straight into the goalie’s midriff. Roger Bader rolled the dice, calling goalie Starkbaum to the bench with 2:45 to play. However, his team lost possession and Perbix completed a comfortable win. 
United States vs Austria - 2023 IIHF WM