Jack Eichel scores first Worlds goal as U.S. tops Slovenia, makes quarterfinals (video)
The U.S. clinched a World Hockey Championship quarterfinal berth for the fifth straight year by beating Slovenia 3-1 in its sixth of seven group-play games in Ostrava, Czech Republic, on Sunday.
Jack Eichel, the NCAA Player of the Year as a freshman at Boston University this past season, potted his first senior World Championship goal in the third period. He scored deflecting a Brock Nelson shot.
Nelson, a New York Islanders forward, scored twice in the opening 17 minutes.
Connor Hellebuyck kept Anze Kopitar-led Slovenia to a single second-period tally on 22 shots. The U.S. took 17 shots.
The U.S., with one Olympian on its roster (defenseman Justin Faulk), improved to 5-1 at the World Championship and moved atop Group B with 15 points.
Defending champion Russia and Olympic bronze medalist Finland each have 12 points with two games left each. The U.S. defeated Russia and Finland earlier in group play.
Belarus, which beat the U.S. on Thursday, is in fourth place in Group B with 10 points through five of seven group games.
The U.S. will clinch the top spot in the group if it beats Slovakia in its group finale on Tuesday (NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra, 10 a.m. ET).
A victory over Slovakia would ensure the U.S. would not have to play undefeated Group A leader Canada, captained by Sidney Crosby, in Thursday’s quarterfinals. The U.S.’ quarterfinal opponent is likely to be Sweden, the Czech Republic, Switzerland or Germany.
The U.S. has won three Worlds medals since 1962, all bronze.