Florida Panthers prospect Vincent Trocheck scored two goals and an added assist, all in the second period, as Team USA crushed Slovakia 9-3 during a must-win game from the World Junior Championship in Ufa, Russia on Monday. Trocheck drew the secondary assist on the second goal of the game for John Gaudreau (pictured) which came on the power play. Trocheck then scored his first goal of the tournament, also with the USA enjoying a man-advantage, 81 seconds later. He added another goal midway through the second frame with the assists going to line-mates Tyler Biggs and Mario Lucia. Trocheck finished with four shots on goal, went 15/25 on face-offs and posted a +1 rating.
Rocco Grimaldi dressed as the 13th forward but did not get a shift in the game. I am not sure why Grimaldi didn't play. His performance over the first three games absolutely did not warrant a benching.
Team USA got goals from seven different players with three of the goals coming from the club's active defenseman. They out shot the Slovaks by a 31-29 count. John Gaudreau had a break out game for the Americans with two goals and a helper. Alex Galchenyuk added a goal and an assist while J.T. Miller looked good, picking up two assists.
The win put the Americans into the quarterfinals where they will probably meet the Czech Republic depending on the outcome of the Sweden-Finland game today. Team USA finished group play with a 2-2 record and in third place.
Click here for a detailed recap of the game from the official 2013 World Junior Championship site.
Some random observations:
- Vincent Trocheck showed good jump in the first period which earned him some power play time in the second. Trocheck used the extra space to his advantage and collected his first points of the tournament. He wisely went to the front of the net again to pick up his second goal. Trocheck had a great chance while shorthanded to complete the hat trick but missed the net.
- Rocco Grimaldi dressed but spent the entire game on the bench. His spot on the J.T. Miller line was taken by Jim Vesey who helped spark the Americans in the first period. Vesey finished with three assists. Not sure if Grimaldi is nicked up, in the doghouse or Phil Housely simply didn't want to tinker with his newly-shuffled lines once the game began and the US started lighting the lamp. As mentioned above, Grimaldi has been playing pretty well despite only having one assist in the first three games. There were plenty of other US forwards that deserved to ride the pine based strictly on performance.
- Team USA showed nice touch around the net in the first period as they cruised to a 5-2 lead. They will need some of that magic going forward. The US has proven they can bury the puck against teams like Slovakia and Germany but not against the serious contenders... yet.
- The US defense was a lot looser than usual especially in the first period. The Americans got five goals but the Slovaks played them pretty even early in the game and could have gotten more goals of their own if not for goaltender John Gibson. I thought hot draft prospect Seth Jones had his most complete game of the tournament so far.
- Discipline remains a problem for the Americans. They had a player ejected and too many penalties again.
- I was little disappointed with the Slovaks who delivered a sub par effort today. This wasn't the team that gave Russia and Canada such a hard time. The Slovaks left huge openings in the defensive zone all game long. I thought pulling goaltender Adam Nagy early in the game, with the score 3-1, was a mistake. Perhaps, with the Americans buzzing, they saw the writing on the wall and wanted to rest him for the upcoming regulation round.