World Juniors: Team USA avoids relegation, pounds Slovakia 9-3
After Team USA’s loss to Canada yesterday, they were on the hook to win today or else be sent to the relegation round of the World Junior Championships for the second year in a row. This time around, Team USA would not be denied.
The Americans hung a nine-spot on Slovakia, advancing to the second round with a 9-3 victory in what turned out to be a penalty-filled game. The two sides combined for 65 penalty minutes with 15 total minors handed out, six to Team USA.
While goals were tough to come by against Canada, Johnny Gaudreau and Vince Trocheck each had two goals and an assist to lead the way. All but four players earned a point in today’s game, so if you had Blake Pietila, Riley Barber, Rocco Grimaldi, or Pat Sieloff in your WJC fantasy pool (that exists, right?), tough luck. Goalie John Gibson stopped 26 of 29 shots to get the win.
With the win, Team USA moves on to the quarterfinals and will take on the Czech Republic. The Czechs finished second in Group A behind Sweden.
Meanwhile, Switzerland will face the loser of the Russia/Canada game in the quarters. The top seeds in each group receive a bye to the semifinals. Sweden and the winner of Russia/Canada will earn the free pass.