U.S. beats Slovenia, earns bye to quarters
The U.S. men’s hockey team has earned an extra day off.
By virtue of the Americans’ 5-1 win over Slovenia on Sunday morning, Team USA won Group A at the 2014 Sochi Games and has earned a bye to the quarterfinals.
The U.S. won’t play until Wednesday morning. Its opponent is yet to be decided.
One day after former UND and Warroad High School star T.J. Oshie lifted the Americans to a dramatic shootout win over the Russians, the Americans didn’t need any late-game heroics to beat Slovenia.
Phil Kessel tallied a natural hat trick, Joe Pavelski set up all three of his goals, and the Americans won their third straight game at these Olympics. Ryan Miller started in net for the first time in these Olympics for Team USA, and he made 17 saves, allowing a goal with just 17.6 seconds left.
Just 1:04 into the game, Kessel walked past a Slovenian defenseman and snapped a shot just inside the post to put the U.S. up 1-0. At 4:33, he struck again, batting a Pavelski pass out of midair.
After Slovenia pushed to get a goal back, Oshie’s line created momentum with a shift and it led to Kessel’s third goal. The former Gopher pounced on a rebound of a Pavelski shot at 11:05 of the second to make it 3-0.
Former Wisconsin defenseman Ryan McDonagh made it 4-0 with a wrist shot at 12:17 of the middle frame.
David Backes tacked on a fifth goal in the third period.
The Americans are trying to win their first Olympic medal overseas since a silver in 1972 in Sapporo, Japan. The U.S. won silver in 2010 in Vancouver.