Slovakia stuns USA at world juniors

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Slovakia has pulled off a significant upset at the World Junior Championship, beating USA 6-3 on Wednesday.

This is the fifth time Slovakia has managed to beat the Americans at this tournament, with the last win coming on this day in 2017. The wins puts Slovakia in third and USA and fourth, with every team in Group B grabbing at least one point after two games each. The win puts Slovakia in a good spot to avoid relegation, but will likely still need to beat Latvia later in the tournament.

It didn’t take long for the Slovaks to strike first. At 2:14, Simon Nemec created the scoring chance that saw his team strike near the net. There, Libor Nemec knocked the puck over the goal line and in for the 1-0 goal.

The Americans answered back with a pair of goals, with Tyler Boucher scoring at 4:42 on a crease-crashing situation of his own. Two minutes later, Lane Hutson’s shot was tipped in by Gavin Brindley in front of the Slovak net to give USA its only lead of the game.

The United States entered the second with high hopes, but the Slovaks scored three unanswered to shake everything up. At the halfway point of the second, Dalibor Dvorsky’s shot on the power play made it 2-2, only for Robert Baco to give his team the go-ahead goal a minute later. At 33:20, Filip Mesar’s shot was tipped in by American forward Charlie Stramel to give the Slovaks a surprising two-goal lead, changing the dynamic of the contest.

Perhaps the most talked-about moment was the game misconduct to Kenny Connors. He was given a five-minute major and a game misconduct for his hit on David Natny, which resulted in Natny hitting the boards hard with his right shoulder. Natny finished the game, and the Americans ultimately killed the major penalty.

USA couldn’t get enough high-quality chances on Slovakia’s Adam Gajan, and they eventually paid the price once their defense broke down again. This time, Jozef Kmec sent Peter Repcik down the ice with under 10 minutes to go and he outmuscled Luke Hughes to create the chance, but Kaidan Mbereko made a big pad stop. Unfortunately for him, the puck bounced out and hit Hughes’ shin pad and in, giving Slovakia the 5-2 lead.

The Americans upped the ante late with a power-play goal. At 55:08, and with the empty net, Boucher got his second of the night after Cutter Gauthier’s shot was stopped by Gajan, but directed to Boucher in front of the empty cage. The Americans came close to scoring a fourth goal while holding sustained pressure, but Gajan was up for the task and shut USA out in the closing minutes. Jozef Kmec finished off the scoring, putting one in the empty American net with 1:06 left to finish things off.

Source: Daily Face Off