As America’s head coach Nate Leaman said after his team’s victory on New Year’s Eve: ” It’s a new tournament now.”
On Saturday night, the United States hit the ice against Slovakia in the final quarterfinal meeting of the 2021 I IHF World Junior Championship. The Americans finished the preliminary round atop Group B after scoring three wins in a row; they lost the first match to Russia 5-3. It was the sixth time the Americans had won their group: four of the previous five times they skated with some hardware (a bronze, a silver and two golds).
This squad wouldn’t mind replicating that in 2021. What they don’t want to relive is what happened last year. Eight players are returning from a 2020 team that was eliminated 1-0 by Finland in the quarterfinals.
” I’ve spoken to a couple of them individually … They are sending the message and getting the message across to their teammates that this is a new tournament and this has to be one of our best games,” said the head coach. Nate Leaman.
The American’s bench chief would also like to maintain his own quarter-final past, and with Slovakia, in the past. In 2009, Leaman was an assistant coach for Team USA which was bothered in the quarterfinals by the Slovaks 5-3. Some recognizable names on that team: 2020 Stanley Cup champions Kevin Shattenkirk and Ryan McDonagh.
Another member of that ’09 team was James van Remedy, whom Trevor Zebras tied for third on America’s youth would race points list on New Year’s Eve when he scored three against Sweden. Zebras and now NHLer van Remedy each have 22 points, and future Duck has 13 in the tournament. He will seek to regain his position only at the top of the 2021 standings when Canadian Dylan Cozens scored a goal and an assist in Canada’s win to tie him on points.
Once again, the United States will be without Patrick Moynihan for the second consecutive game due to injury. The Devils prospect took a late, high (and, many would say, dirty) hit against Austria (the player was suspended two games for the hit) and was brought down against the Czechs. With Moynihan out, the Americans wear 12 forwards and eight defenders. After Tyler Kleven played Sweden, Rangers prospect Hunter Skinner sits at the rear. Moynihan may be available if the Americans advance.
Slovakia won just one game in the preliminary round, a 1-0 screech over Switzerland to open the tournament. It held Canada to three goals in a loss as players clogged down the middle, blocked an inordinate number of shots and thwarted the Canadians’ powerful offense. The Slovaks don’t have much offense, having only scored five goals on 87 shots (the second-lowest total shots in the preliminary round).
” Big, physical, physical with the fronts of the net,” Leaman said when asked what challenges the Czechs bring. “Structurally they will make it difficult for us. We have to handle the pucks. We have to play fast with firm support. We may have a little advantage in foot speed, but they certainly make it difficult to play against them. We will have to make sure we are by moving our feet, we moved the discs quickly and handled the discs well. “
Spencer Knight will get the nod on the web. After allowing four goals on 12 shots to the Russians at Christmas, he threw consecutive shutouts (which followed a shutout of fellow goalkeeper Dustin Wolf). With a goalkeeper in the net, the Americans haven’t allowed a goal in 206: 35 (180: 21 if you factor in Russia’s empty net).
Sporting News has all the action as the United States and Slovakia battle for a place to play for a medal.
(All the eastern time)
USA vs. Slovakia, highlights of the 2021 World Youth Cup
Before the game
9:20 pm – Lines.
9:10 pm – Some notes to prepare you.
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Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.