Team USA advances to World Junior quarterfinals with win over Slovakia

By Michael Caples -

Hockeytown was caught up in college hockey this weekend; now it’s time to shift some of the focus back to Team USA’s World Juniors team, currently playing against the world’s best young talent in Ufa, Russia.

The Americans posted a 9-3 win over Slovakia today to secure a spot in the quarterfinals. Team USA advances as the No. 3 seed in Group B of the tournament – a group that includes Canada and Russia.

Saginaw Spirit forward Vince Trocheck (Pittsburgh) and John Gaudreau (Carneys Point, N.J.) had two goals, while Rochester native Jacob Trouba increased his scoring streak by adding a power-play goal for the U.S. John Gibson (Pittsburgh) stopped 26 shots in goal for Team USA.

“A lot of guys that haven’t been scoring found the net tonight, like John Gaudreau and Vince Trocheck,” said Phil Housley, head coach of the U.S. National Junior Team. “Our power play was sharp tonight as was our penalty kill. Still, we need to improve our discipline and stay out of the penalty box as we look ahead to the quarterfinals.”

The win snaps a two-game losing skid for the Americans, who lost 2-1 to Russia on Dec. 28, and 2-1 to Canada on Dec. 30. They were in a must-win situation against Slovakia to avoid the relegation round, and continue towards the medal round.

One of the bright spot in those two losses, however, was the play of Trouba; the Michigan Wolverines freshman defenseman scored Team USA’s lone goal in both contests. Trouba has a goal in all four World Juniors games this holiday season.

Team USA will begin play in the medal round on Wednesday, Jan. 2. NHL Network will broadcast the game.