OSTRAVA, Czech Republic, May 12 – This past winter, freshman Jack Eichel was outstanding for Boston University, leading the Terriers to a Hockey East championship and a berth in the NCAA tournament final. On Tuesday, he helped Team USA beat Slovakia, 5-4, in overtime at the world championships.
Eichel scored with 28 seconds remaining in overtime as the Americans won their sixth game in seven tries and clinched first place in Group B at the International Ice Hockey Federation’s world championship tournament in front of an electric, sellout crowd of 8,812 at CEZ Arena.
The Americans (6-1) will face Switzerland, which finished fourth in Group A, in Thursday’s quarterfinals at 9:15 a.m., EST. The game will broadcast live by the NBC Sports Network (NBCSN).
Avon’s Ben Smith, a forward from the San Jose Sharks, scored his first goal in the tournament, giving the Americans an early 1-0 lead in the first period.
The play began when Milford’s Mark Arcobello (Arizona Coyotes) collected the puck in the left corner and sent it back to John Moore (Arizona Coyotes), whose blast from the point was deflected by Smith past Slovakia goaltender Jan Laco just 2:36 into the game.
“It was a really great environment tonight,” said Todd Richards, Team USA’s head coach said. “We started well, had a lapse in the second period and finished the game strong. A credit to our players. We won the group and now we’ll get ready for Switzerland.”
Team USA led 3-0 just 27 seconds into the second period when Anders Lee (N.Y. Islanders) tipped a shot by Justin Faulk (Carolina Hurricanes) past Slovakia backup goalie Julius Hudacek. Seth Jones scored on a power play to give the Americans a 2-0 lead less than two minutes after Smith’s goal.
Slovakia scored four unanswered goals in the second period to take the lead. Marian Gaborik deflected in a shot for the first goal and Adam Janosik cut the lead to one when his shot went in off Brock Nelson’s (N.Y. Islanders) stick. Vladimir Dravecky scored to tie the game before Milan Bartovic scored on a breakaway to give Slovakia a 4-3 lead.
Team USA tied the game with 51 seconds left of a wild second period when Charlie Coyle (Minnesota Wild) deflected in a shot from Zach Reymond (Colorado Avalanche).
After a scoreless third period, the game went to a five-minute sudden death overtime. With just 28 remaining in the extra frame, Eichel collected a loose puck on the left wall, circled towards the point, and threw a shot on net with Lewis providing the screen in front.
NOTES: A total of 10 different players got on the scoresheet, led by Jack Eichel (1-1–2) and Anders Lee (1-1–2) … The current world championship format was started in 2012 with two groups of eight teams playing round robin with the top four in each group advancing to the quarterfinals. Prior to this year, the U.S. had never won its group in this format … Team USA has won at least six games in the world championship in three of the last four years and six times overall.
Thursday, May 14
Game 1: USA (6-1) vs. Switzerland (2-5)
Game 2: Sweden (5-2) vs. Russia (5-2)
Game 3: Canada (7-0) vs. Belarus (4-3)
Game 4: Finland (6-1) vs. Czech Republic (5-2)
Saturday, May 16
Game 1 vs. Game 2 winner
Game 3 vs. Game 4 winner
Sunday, May 17
Sunday, May 17
Bronze medal game