(L-R) Jack Eichel and Patrick Kane celebrate in a game against Germany at the IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship on May 19, 2019 in Kosice, Slovakia.
The U.S. men’s ice hockey team is moving into the quarterfinal round of the IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship, and its first test will be against Russia.
Team USA wrapped up preliminary play with a 3-0 loss to Canada on Tuesday in Kosice, Slovakia, leaving the team with four wins, an overtime win and two losses in its seven preliminary round games.
That record was good enough for fourth place in Group A and a spot in the second round, but Tuesday’s result means the U.S. now has to face Group B winner Russia on Thursday in Bratislava, whereas a win against Canada would have resulted in a group win and a more favorable quarterfinal matchup against Switzerland.
The U.S. team, which is made up mostly of NHL players whose teams are no longer active in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, is going for its second consecutive medal after finishing third in 2018.
The Americans bounced back from a surprise 4-1 opening loss to host Slovakia on May 10 to string together five strong results, starting with a 7-1 rout of France on May 12. Detroit Red Wings forward Dylan Larkin scored the game-winner in overtime for a 3-2 victory over Finland the next night.
“We’re taking steps in the right direction and that’s great to see,” U.S. coach Jeff Blashill said after the win. “They’re (Finland) a tough team to play against and I give our guys a lot of credit. They battled hard all game long and deserved to get rewarded with points.”
Team USA then beat Great Britain, Denmark and Germany by a combined score of 16-5 before facing Canada.
The game against Germany was tied 1-1 going into the third before Larkin scored the winning goal. Goaltender Cory Schneider, who plays for the New Jersey Devils, made 24 saves against Germany to clinch the team’s spot in the quarterfinals.
“It was a great game and a great test for our team and a great test for our character,” Larkin said. “We didn’t get frustrated. We knew a 1-1 game going into the third that one shot was going to decide it and we just had to be patient be mature and be ready to bury our chances. Huge game for us.”
Patrick Kane, a two-time Olympian for Team USA, has led the team in scoring.
One year after leading the 2018 tournament with 20 points and earning MVP honors, the Chicago Blackhawks star leads Team USA with 10 points on two goals and eight assists. He is tied for eighth overall in scoring.
In the win against Great Britain last week, Kane assisted on James van Riemsdyk’s goal for his 34th point, passing “Miracle on Ice” legend Mark Johnson for the most in world championship history. Kane is also serving as U.S. captain.
Blackhawks teammate Alex Debrincat is second on the U.S. team with six goals and two assists for eight points, while Buffalo Sabres star and Youth Olympian Jack Eichel, the only player on the team to have a point in every game of the tournament up until Tuesday, has two goals and six assists.