OSTRAVA, Czech Republic – Ben Smith (Avon, Conn./San Jose Sharks) and Charlie Coyle (East Weymouth, Mass./Minnesota Wild) scored goals :57 seconds apart midway through the second period and Jake Gardiner (Minnetonka, Minn./Toronto Maple Leafs) added an insurance goal in the third period to help the U.S. Men’s National Team defeat Switzerland, 3-1, in quarterfinal play here today at the 2015 IIHF Men’s World Championship.
The U.S. will move to Prague tomorrow and play the winner of the Russia/Sweden quarterfinal in semifinal action on Saturday (May 16). The game time will be determined after all quarterfinal games are complete.
“I thought overall we had a really solid effort,” said Todd Richards, head coach of the 2015 U.S. Men’s National Team. “We fell behind 1-0 after the first period, but I thought we played a pretty good period. Our goaltender made some good saves early in the second period and when we got that first goal, I thought things started to change. This team continues to find a way to win and I’m really proud of the group.”
As expected, it was a tight-checking first period with quality scoring chances difficult to come by.
Team USA received its first power play attempt at 5:35 of the opening frame with Switzerland’s Kevin Fiala whistled for slashing, but a stingy Swiss penalty kill limited U.S. opportunities.
With just under eight minutes remaining, Mark Arcobello (Milford, Conn./Arizona Coyotes), having received a pretty stretch pass from Torey Krug (Livonia, Mich./Boston Bruins), whisked a backhander on Reto Berra from the right circle that the Swiss goalie made a pad save on.
Roman Josi opened the scoring at 13:01 of the first period. The Swiss defenseman picked up the puck in his own zone, carried it nearly the length of the ice, put a few nifty moves on the U.S. defenders and chipped it over the right shoulder of U.S. goalie Connor Hellebuyck (Commerce, Mich./St. John’s).
With :31 remaining in the opening frame, Seth Jones (Plano, Texas/Nashville Predators) fired a hard slapshot from the top of the right circle, but Berra was up to the challenge.
Despite a 9-4 shots-on-goal advantage, the U.S. trailed 1-0 after 20 minutes.
Smith put the U.S. on the board with just under 10 minutes to go in the second period. Jimmy Vesey (North Reading, Mass./Harvard) showed his speed, circling the net and sending a perfect pass to Smith in the slot, who beat Berra low to the left side with a quick wrister. Arcobello started the play, collecting a loose puck near the blue line and passing to Vesey.
Fifty-seven seconds later, Coyle gave the U.S. a 2-1 lead, tipping a Jones blast from the doorstep past Berra. Anders Lee (Edina, Minn./New York Islanders) was credited with the second assist.
“It was a big momentum boost for our whole team,” said alternate captain Trevor Lewis of the two quick goals. “That’s the kind of second period that we needed. We executed and we kept things a lot more simple tonight.”
Brock Nelson (Warroad, Minn./New York Islanders) nearly gave the U.S. a two-goal advantage two minutes into the final frame, taking a nice touch pass from Jack Eichel (North Chelmsford, Mass./Boston University) entering the offensive zone near the right sideboards. Team USA’s leading scorer skated the puck in, but his shot from close range was stopped by Berra. However, the U.S. received its second power play of the game as Eichel was tripped up by Robin Grossmann on the play.
Although the U.S. couldn’t capitalize on the power play, Gardiner scored shortly thereafter sending a shot from the high point past Berra with Lee providing the screen in front to make it 3-1. Lee outworked a defender behind the Swiss net and got the puck to Coyle who found Gardiner at the blue line.
U.S. goaltender Connor Hellebuyck (Commerce, Mich./St. John’s) made 21 saves to win his sixth game of the world championship..
“We’re all really excited,” said Hellebuyck. “I’m really exhausted because they played a really good game against us. I thought we really bought into our system and played the way we want to play.”
NOTES: Team USA has won seven of its eight games in the world championship. No U.S. team has ever won eight games in a single world championship. With today’s victory, the 2015 U.S. Men’s National team ties the 2013 (bronze medal) and 1939 (silver medal) for most wins in a single world championship … Connor Hellebuyck has had exactly 21 saves in each of the last four games … Defenseman John Moore was named the U.S. Player of the Game … The U.S. outshot Switzerland 24-22.
Team USA 2015 IIHF Men’s World Championship Schedule/Results
May 1-17 • Ostrava/Prague Czech Republic
Date Opponent Venue
Tues., April 28 Austria (ex.) Eissportzentrum Kagran W, 4-1
Fri., May 1 Finland CEZ Arena W, 5-1
Sat., May 2 Norway CEZ Arena W, 2-1
Mon., May 4 Russia CEZ Arena W, 4-2
Thurs., May 7 Belarus CEZ Arena L, 2-5
Fri., May 8 Denmark CEZ Arena W, 1-0
Sun., May 10 Slovenia CEZ Arena W, 3-1
Tues., May 12 Slovakia CEZ Arena W, 5-4 OT
Thurs., May 14 Switzerland (quarterfinal) CEZ Arena W, 3-1
Sat., May 16 Russia/Sweden winner
(semifinal) O2 Arena TBD
Sun., May 17 Medal Round Game O2 Arena TBD
*Eissportzentrum Kagran in Vienna, Austria; CEZ Arena in Ostrava, Czech Republic; O2 Arena in Prague, Czech Republic.