U.S. in danger of missing WJC medal round after loss to Canada
by Christian Arnold/Correspondent
Two first period goals by Canada was all it took for them to defeat the United States on Sunday and put the Americans (1-0-0-2) in a must-win situation on New Year’s Eve against Slovakia.
“I thought our guys played a heck of a game,” USA head coach Phil Housley said. “We were one bounce away from tying it up… I do give our guys credit when we got the five on threes. Battling and staying in the game showed a lot of composure.”
The Americans did generate chances, both teams did, but it was the Canadians who jumped on the scoreboard first. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins opened up the scoring at the 7:13 mark off a blast from the high slot to give his squad the 1-0 lead. The U.S. continued to get chances, but the great goaltending by Malcolm Subban kept them off the board.
Subban would go on to stop 36 of the 37 shots he faced against the U.S. and was named Player of the Game.
“He played well. You got to give credit where credit is due,” Jake McCabe said of the Canadian netminder’s play.
Seven minutes after the Canadians first goal, Ryan Strome added a second one. He was on the receiving end of a great feed from behind the net from Brett Ritchie and made it 2-0 in favor of Canada.
After the goal, the game became a goaltending battle, as both the Canadians and Americans generated quality chances. Not to be outdone by his counterpart, U.S. starter John Gibson made 30 saves of his own and was also named Player of the Game for his squad.
It wasn’t until the third period that the hard work of the United States paid off. Jacob Trouba finally beat Subban and cut the Canadians’ lead to just one, but any momentum that would have been gained from the goal was killed by a string of penalties called against the Americans.
“All those penalties at the end, it’s tough,” McCabe, who was given a two-minute penalty and a game misconduct for a check to the head, said after the game. “Throughout the whole game they’re letting a lot of things go and then things are starting to get called… When they start blowing the whistle with less than 10 minutes left it’s a little questionable.”
The U.S. Would get a power play chance to finish out the game, but failed to convert on the opportunity.
The loss sets up a must-win game against Slovakia, a team that has played their past two opponents very well.
“We had our chances, we had our opportunities” Housley said. “It’s one thing if you’re not getting the opportunities to score, but we are. We just got to continue to stay on course here. We played two very good hockey teams and had a chance to tie the game in both games. We have to regroup definitely for Slovakia. We’ll learn a lot from this game.”
The United States and Slovakia face off at 5 a.m. EST.