USA Hockey’s quest for a repeat gold medal at the World Junior Championships began tonight with game 1 of the tournament against Slovakia. This exhilarating game ended with a 3-2 win for the US over Slovakia.
The US grabbed control of this game early. They started a bit sloppy, had two penalties to kill in the first 5 minutes. BUT they did just that, killed them both off, and got their shit together. Then 13:35 into the period, they got the wheels on the bus. Matthew Knies got things going with the USA’s first goal of the tournament.
The young Mackie Samoskevich, who I have been excited to see all tournament, got the US up another goal with snipe 2 minutes later.
Samoskevich is just 19, he’s been playing at Michigan and he won a USHL championship just last season with the Chicago Steel. He’s going to have an incredible career and it’s good to see him get some due on his good name. He gives the US that 2-0 lead and they take it into the second period.
The US remained confidently in the lead throughout that second period. Landon Slaggert scored a dirty goal right in front of the net to make this a 3-0 ballgame.
I hype up Slaggert every day and for good reason. He’s smart, takes every chance he gets, and good things happen from there. The US kept that 3-0 lead until the early third period. The Slovaks slipped one past Drew Commesso. The group seemed like they let up after the first 40 minutes. This is a 60-minute game, don’t play all 60 and you’re kissing that gold medal goodbye. If you only play those first 40-minutes, it won’t matter how well you do because it is just as easy to lose all momentum you gained by giving the opponent time and space in the final 20. The US got lucky that Slovakia got a goal waved off in the late 3rd because of high sticking. If this game went to 3-2, it would be a completely different ball game.
After a skirmish basically in the Slovakian net, both teams got matching penalties for some 4-on-4 hockey. The Slovaks didn’t want that to last long though. They rushed Commesso and got this game 3-2 with about 2 minutes remaining. The US kept it together and ended this game 3-2. These two teams were hungry for a win, they were throwing weight around left and right. It was a great first game for this tournament.
Drew Commesso, who has had a bit of a rough start over in college, had a great first game. He stopped 23 of 25 shots he faced, great rebound control. Here’s a thread by Chicago Prospects of some of his saved:
I thought Wyatt Kaiser also had a great game, he supported the hell out of Commesso when he got into a bind. Good game for Mackie Samoskevich, Luke Hughes, and Jake Sanderson – who played a whopping 16 minutes.
It was a good first game for the US but they need to keep the bus going for all 60-minutes, with no lightning up during 2nd intermission. That last 20-minutes was a mess, especially after the Slovaks got up 3-2. Can’t do that against teams like Sweden or Canada. They’ll have off until Tuesday when the US will move on to play Switzerland, which is a pretty good team. Then on Wednesday, they’ll play Sweden, which is always fierce so this will be a big test for our success.
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Featured Image: USA Hockey's Twitter