When Team USA comes together, they do so impressively. After a mediocre showing at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games, the U.S. Men’s National Team is probably looking for some redemption, and to prove to the world, and themselves, that the United States of America can be a hockey country.
The Americans got off to a good start with a 6-1 victory over Belarus yesterday, with young talents Jacob Trouba and Johnny Gaudreau contributing a combined 5 points. The 2014 IIHF Men’s World Championships are taking place in Minsk, Belarus, so the crowd heavily favored Belarus, whose president was even in attendance.
Team USA got on the board about halfway through the first period, on the power play, after Belarus got called for tripping. Tyler Johnson set up Craig Smith, whose shot was directed into the net by Brock Nelson to give the Americans a 1-0 lead.
Things got exciting in the second frame when the Americans scored three more goals in 2 minutes and 43 seconds to extend the lead to a commanding 4-0. Jacob Trouba had a one-timer on the feed from Danny DeKeyser at 14:59. Fifty four seconds later, Johnny Gaudreau added another. Colin McDonald had a yawning cage less than 2 minutes later, and drove one home.
“Tonight was a very close game and in the first period it was ultra competitive,” said Peter Laviolette, head coach of the 2014 U.S. Men’s National Team. “I thought that Belarus played extremely hard and I liked the competitiveness of our guys as well. In the second period, the play was being taken to us and then a few goals went our way. I thought the power play was good tonight.”
While Tim Thomas would not see a shutout in his return to international play, as Belarus got a tally late in the second period, he did play well against the “home” team.
“They came at us right off the bat,” Thomas said after the win. “It was their first-ever world championship game on home turf and fortunately we were able to get the win to start the tournament.”
“I thought Tim Thomas looked really sharp tonight especially early on. Belarus was very dangerous off the attack, they entered the zone with lots of possession and chances at the net,” said U.S. head coach Peter Laviolette. “He looked like he was in control tonight, there weren’t a lot of rebounds and when there were, I thought our defense did a good job of clearing them,” Laviolette said.
Even Mikhail Grabovski (skating for Belarus) spoke highly of Thomas and his appearance at the tournament.
“I think it’s great that he’s come here at his age, it’s a great decision for him and for our country,” Grabovski said. “Little kids here can watch one of the best players in the NHL play. He played great today. We had so many chances and I think he’s one of the main parts of the U.S win.”
Two more USA goals in the third, on the power play by Jacob Trouba and Jake Gardiner, sealed the win for the Americans for a final score of 6-1
The U.S. Men’s National Team (1-0-0-0) will continue preliminary-round action today (May 10) against Switzerland. Puck-drop is schedule for 1:45 p.m. ET and can be viewed live on NBC Sports Network.
Team USA 2014 IIHF Men’s World Championship Schedule
May 9-25 • Minsk, Belarus
|Date||Opponent||Venue||Time (Local/EDT)/Result||NBCSN Broadcast|
|Fri., May 9||Belarus||Minsk Arena||W, 6-1|
|Sat., May 10||Switzerland||Minsk Arena||8:45 p.m./1:45 p.m.||Live|
|Mon., May 12||Russia||Minsk Arena||8:45 p.m./1:15 p.m.||Live|
|Thurs., May 15||Latvia||Minsk Arena||4:45 p.m./9:45 a.m.||Live|
|Fri., May 16||Kazakhstan||Minsk Arena||4:45 p.m./9:45 a.m.||Live|
|Sun., May 18||Finland||Minsk Arena||4:45 p.m./9:45 a.m.||Live|
|Tues., May 20||Germany||Minsk Arena||12:45 p.m./5:45 a.m.||Live|
|Thurs., May 22||Quarterfinals||TBD||TBD||tape delay|
|Sat., May 24||Semifinals||Minsk Arena||2:45 p.m./7:45 a.m.
6:45 p.m./11:45 a.m.
|Sun., May 25||Bronze-Medal Game||Minsk Arena||4:30 p.m./9:30 a.m.||tape delay|
|Gold-Medal Game||Minsk Arena||9:00 p.m./2:00 p.m.||Live|