By Mackenzie Liddell
Charlie Coyle and Kyle Palmieri had three-point nights and the U.S. rebounded after a squeaking by Finland in overtime start to the tournament by beating Slovakia 6-1 Sunday night in Buffalo, N.Y.
Palmieri scored twice and Coyle, Drew Shore, Chris Brown and Emerson Etem added goals of their own to push the Americans to 2-0 in preliminary play.
Tomas Jurco scored the lone goal for Slovakia (1-1), who were vastly outmatched and outplayed from start to finish.
Jack Campbell made 17 saves and picked up the victory in goal. Dominik Riecicky started for Slovakia, but was pulled after getting shelled for six goals on 40 shots. Juraj Holly came on in relief and stopped all 17 shots directed his way.
The U.S. opened up the scoring at 4:31 of the first period as Coyle stole the puck at the red line, rushed down the left wing and passed it to Palmieri who shoveled it past Riecicky.
Slovakia got into penalty trouble shortly after when Peter Hrasko elbowed Jerry D’Amigo in the head along the boards. D’Amigo laid on the ice momentarily and looked shaken upon returning to the American bench. Hrasko was given a five minute penalty for checking to the head and a game misconduct.
Team USA made him pay for the play on the ensuing power play. Jon Merrill hammered a slap shot wide of the net and Palmieri corralled the puck off the end boards and snapped a shot along the goal line, catching Riecicky off guard and putting the Americans up 2-0.
The Slovakians struggled to generate any semblance of an attack in the first and were held to one shot on goal while Riecicky faced 22 shots in the first 20 minutes.
It was the same story to start the second period.
With Andrej Kurdna in the box for delay of game, the Americans kept the power play rolling as Coyle snapped a wrister over Riecicky while at the side of the net, giving the U.S. a 3-0 lead at 3:56.
The U.S. continued its onslaught with the man advantage minutes later. Brian Dumoulin found Brown all alone in front of the goal and the American forward made a nice move and slid the puck under Riecicky.
But the Slovakians countered quickly as Jurco picked up the puck in the slot on a fortunate bounce and put it in the open net to bring the Slovaks within three.
Slovakia continued to surge after the goal, but the Americans took back control when Shore burst down the wing, turned a Slovakian defender inside out with a nice toe drag and buried a backhand upstairs.
Things continued to get worse for the Slovaks thereafter, as Etem drew the praise of the HSBC faithful after scoring on a soft wrist shot and chasing Riecicky from the game, giving the Americans a 6-1 lead after two. Etem was booed by the pro-American crowd throughout the contest because of negative remarks he supposedly made about Buffalo on Twitter.
The third period didn’t provide much in terms of offense, but more dirty play marred the match, as Jason Zucker was the victim of yet another check to the head. Slovak defenseman Martin Marincin was ejected from the game and assessed a five minute major.
Team USA outshot Slovakia 57-18 and cashed in on their power-play opportunities, going 3-for-6 on the evening. Slovakia was 0-for-2 with the man advantage.
The U.S. plays next on Thursday with a 7 p.m. EST match against Germany, while the Slovaks take on Switzerland at 3 p.m.
Notes: Jeremy Morin and Brock Nelson didn’t suit up for the U.S. due to injuries suffered in their last game against Finland…In earlier preliminary play, Canada defeated the Czech Republic 7-2; Finland topped Switzerland 4-0; and Sweden beat Russia 2-0.
By Mackenzie Liddell