In what has to be the least surprising move of the tournament thus far, the US started the Matteau-Copp-Fasching line again today. Anthony Stolarz took over in goal in order to get him some tournament experience, and he hasn’t disappointed thus far. A little over a minute in, the US was down 2 men after Kerdiles took a tripping penalty and then the team was penalized for too many men on the ice. Stolarz was undoubtedly the team’s best penalty killer, making two huge saves right off the bat, but a close second was Brady Skjei, who has been an absolute force on the penalty kill in this tournament.
Killing off the 5-on-3 seemed to spark the US; Germany’s Tiffels went to the box for elbowing and, although the US could not score on the power play, Hudson Fasching managed to sneak a puck five-hole on the German goalie at 8:09. The goal came off a rush that was triggered at the other end of the ice by Skjei. Tiffels went off again, this time for hooking, and this time the US power play didn’t disappoint. Nic Kerdiles showcased incredible patience to take the shot off a pass from Vince Hinostroza that, by all rights, shouldn’t have made it through, and Kerdiles put the US up 2-0. From that point out, the majority of the latter half of the period was spent in the German zone, but that came to an end when Steve Santini went off for interference with 2:16 left in the period. The US penalty kill was up to the challenge, however, making their job look simple and making several easy clears to keep the Germans in their own zone.
Almost immediately at the beginning of the 2nd, Copp was taken down by Draisaitl with a hard hit into the boards from behind. After a scary few moments where Copp was down on the ice, he got up and skated off on his own, staying on the bench and laughing. He was back in the game a couple of shifts later. Draisaitl, however, got a major and misconduct and was tossed from the game, and the US received a 5 minute power play. Right after, Ziegler hooked Carrick and the US got two full minutes of a 5-on-3, and it didn’t take them long to capitalize. Will Butcher put a beautiful shot in the top of the net, a one-timer with assists by Eichel and Erne. Not long after, Hinostroza snuck a puck past the German goaltender on a one-timer of his own to make it 4-0. Special teams practiced continued when Saeftel went off for holding, and a great screen in front of the net allowed Riley Barber to score his 3rd goal of the tournament, a low shot from the inside left faceoff circle. The Germans continued their veritable parade to the penalty box by giving the US a 5-on-3 for 2 minutes, and Matt Grzelcyk took advantage, lasering a shot into the top right corner of the net to put the US up 6-0.
Germany changed goaltenders for the third period, putting Kevin Reich in net. Matteau and Ziegler exchanged punches, making it 4-on-4 for 2 minutes. While Matteau has kept himself in check for the most part during the tournament, throwing a punch at a German player when the US was already up 6-0 felt more than a little unnecessary, and Matteau was probably lucky to get away with only a roughing penalty. Both teams made it out of the 4-on-4 unscathed, although afterward Copp got a breakaway that was denied on a terrific save by Reich. Slashing was then called on Germany, sending the US to the power play yet again. Greg Brown, who runs the US power play, decided to put Steve Santini at the front of the net on this particular shift, and it paid off when Santini tipped in a Matt Grzelcyk shot to extend the US lead to 7-0. The final goal of the game came when, after some terrific work by Quentin Shore to get around the German defense, Vince Hinostroza got his second goal and fourth point of the game.
This game was probably the most complete 60 minutes we’ve seen from the US team so far. Apart from the Matteau scuffle, US managed to clean up their penalty issues, for the most part, after the first period, and discipline seems to be getting tighter. Post-game, head coach Don Lucia seemed most annoyed by the too many men penalty. The US is off tomorrow and plays Canada Tuesday at 11:30 EST.
NOTES: Danny O’Regan out with an unspecified injury, Zach Stepan back in for the US. Anthony Stolarz made 15 saves to earn the shutout. USA has only given up one even-strength goal in 3 games. 7 different goal scorers for the US, and as many as 13 players registering a point. US team has as many or more PPG than the rest of Group A put together at this point. Captain Riley Barber got his 3rd goal in 3 games today. Barber and Matt Grzelcyk essentially run the US power play, and as teams have begun to focus on Barber more, it has freed up more opportunities for Grzelcyk, as evidenced by his 2nd period goal. After 3 games, Grzelcyk leads the US with 8 points; Kerdiles, Hinostroza, Copp each have 5. Hudson Fasching named Player of the Game for US, the second time in 3 games a member of the “energy line” received the honor.