The preliminary round of men’s hockey has ended, and what a great ending! The United States won Group A and joined ROC, Finland, and Sweden in getting byes into the quarterfinals. It is a massive upset as team USA was not a top-four favorite going into the tournament. So let’s look at the other games that came at the end of the preliminary round for the four favorites (ROC, Finland, Sweden, and Canada) and the unexpected force, Team USA.
ROC vs. Czechia:
Score: 6-5 in OT
Shot Count: 41-29 (in favor of Czechia)
Czechia: Tomas Kundratek (1), David Krejci (1), Michael Spacek (1), Lukas Klok (1), Tomas Hyka (1), Libor Sulak (OT Winner)
ROC: Vladimir Tkachyov (1), Nikita Nesterov (1), Kirill Semyonov (1), Arseni Gritsyuk (1), Andrei Chibisov (1)
Takeaways: This is the first time ROC has scored more than 2 goals in the tournament and allowed more than none. Team ROC was outshot, but the game still wasn’t all Czechia. The ROC’s offense demonstrated they could generate goals, even though their goaltending and defense was not as sharp. It is a concerning sign that the goaltender allowed 6 goals. Even though facing 41 shots is no easy feat, losing 6-5 indicates a failing on defense and in net. However, Team ROC has shown that both are very capable early in the tournament. Because the game was pushed into OT, Team ROC gets a bye and goes directly into the Quarterfinals as they finished first in their Group.
USA vs. Germany:
Shot Count: 32-26
USA: Steven Kampfer(1), Matthew Knies (1), Nathan Smith (1)
Germany: Patrick Hager (1), Tom Kuhnhackl (1)
Takeaways: Team USA’s underdog energy continues. They are undefeated in the tournament, taking first place in Group A despite not making the top five in the favorites to medal. They have received outstanding goaltending from Drew Commesso and Strauss Mann, a great sign going into the quarterfinals. Another player with a big game was Kampfer; he is one of the older players on this team, but he played exceptionally well and put up a goal and some good chances. Kampfer’s effort was good veteran leadership by example. Team USA’s forecheck continues to be strong and constantly gives them opportunities to score. They are very strong on the puck despite the young age of their team and their reputation for being speedy and skilled. Team USA can handle a heavy team that throws hits and outplay another skilled team. They can win games 8-0 and 3-2. They defeated Team Germany, the defending Silver medalists! Now of course, Team USA’s Olympic success will be measured against Team ROC, Finland, and Sweden, but they should be very proud of how they have played so far. One thing can be sure, the USA continues to surprise other teams with their resilience and ability. They go into the quarterfinals undefeated, a true underdog story, and who doesn’t love one of those?
Canada vs. China
Shot Count: 44-26 (in favor of Canada)
Canada: Ben Street (1), Adam Tambellini (1), Eric O’Dell (1), Kent Johnson (1), Corban Knight (1)
Takeaways: China has not won a single game in this tournament. They have been shut out twice. But it is still no less of an accomplishment for Canada. The Canadians could only win Group A if they beat China and the USA lost to Germany. Of course, the USA defeated Germany, so Canada will still have to play in the qualifying round to ascend to the quarterfinals despite their dominant performance over China. Canada absolutely dominated China, holding them under 30 shots and shutting them out. Matt Tomkins looked great in net, posting a shutout; they should probably ride the hot goalie with Tomkins instead of going back to Pasquale. Canada’s scoring depth continues to look fantastic, with five goals coming from five different players. They should be able to win the qualifying round and join the USA in the quarterfinals.
Finland vs. Sweden
Score: 4-3 OT
Shot Count: 30-27 (in favor of Sweden)
Finland: Teemu Hartikainen (1), Iiro Pakarinen (2), Harri Pesonen (OT winner)
Sweden:Lucas Wallmark (1), Lukas Bengtsson (1), Anton Lander (1)
Takeaways: 5/7 goals in this game were scored on the powerplay. All of Sweden’s goals came on the man advantage. 5 on 5 Finland locked it down. Both teams needed to work on their penalty kill, but it was a pretty even game all around. Both teams will get a bye and move directly on to the quarterfinals. When they play each other, you can tell that these two teams are outstanding and evenly matched.
Qualification Round Match Ups:
USA => quarterfinals
ROC => quarterfinals
Sweden => quarterfinals
Finland => quarterfinals
Canada vs. China