The United States took on Slovakia earlier today at the U18 World Championship in Sweden and it was not pretty if you are a Slovakia fan. But, if you are rooting for Jack Hughes – as most Devils fans would be – it was nothing short of beautiful.
The projected number one overall pick notched seven points, including four goals in the Americans’ 12-5 rout of the Slovaks.
Cole Caufield got the US rolling at the 7:42 mark of the first off assists from Hughes and Case McCarthy. That made it 1-0 USA. In less than ten minutes, it would be 2-0 when Alex Turcotte scored at 17:27.
The Slovaks would cut the American lead in half when Samuel Krajc scored with 29 seconds left in the first period. That goal came on the power play.
Team USA would regain their two goal lead just 10 seconds after the Slovakian goal at 19:41 when Matthew Boldy scored to make it 3-1 going into the first intermission.
Beginning the second period, Hughes scored just 59 seconds into the frame to make it 4-1 USA. Dominik Sojka found the back of the net on the power play at 5:42 to make it 4-2, but Caufield countered with his second of the game at 19:47 to make it 5-2. That was on the power play after Slovakia received a too many men on the ice bench minor.
Then, in the third period, the floodgates really opened for Hughes and the US. He scored his second of the game 1:55 in and never looked back. That made it 6-2 USA. Owen Lindmark would make it 7-2 at the 3:15 mark.
Then a bit of a breakdown from the US penalty kill. At 4:22, Slovakia’s Frantisek Gajdos took a hooking penalty. The Slovaks countered with not one, but two shorthanded goals. Adrian Valigura scored at 5:09 and Martin Chromiak scored at 6:21 just as the penalty was about to expire. After all of that, it was 7-4 USA.
But the Americans immediately got back on the horse. At 10:34, Caufield completed his hat trick to make it 8-4 as Team USA had doubled up Slovakia. Hughes had the lone assist on that goal.
Not to be outdone by his teammate, Hughes notched his hat trick at the 12:13 mark to make it 9-4. This goal came on the power play as well.
Slovakia’s Juraj Elias scored the final goal for them at 14:12 to make it 9-5, but the US was not done.
Hughes beat goaltender Patrik Kozel with exactly five minutes to go in the game to notch his fourth of the night and the US was still not done. Cam York scored 32 seconds after Hughes’ final goal and Caufield scored his fourth of the game on the power play at 17:17 to make it 12-5, our final. Hughes had the primary assist on that goal to give him a whopping seven points on the evening.
In goal, Kozel stopped 35 of 47 US shots while Cam Rowe made 30 saves on 35 Slovak shots against.
Hughes’ stat line read: four goals, three assists for seven points, nine shots on goal and a plus-4 plus/minus rating.
The USA will now faceoff with Russia on Easter Sunday, the 21st, in continued Group B action.
Next up, on our tour of Devils’ prospects, we take you to Drummondville, Quebec as the QMJHL semi-finals got underway between Jocktan Chainey’s Halifax Mooseheads and the Drummondville Voltigeurs.
This one did not go exactly as the Mooseheads had planned, as they fell 3-1 to go down 1-0 early in the best-of-seven series.
Pavel Koltygin gave Drummondville the early 1-0 lead when he scored 9:55 into the game. However, before the first intermission, Halifax would get even.
Keith Getson scored with about 3:30 to go in the first period. Jake Ryczek and Chainey had the assists on this goal, which would be the only time the Mooseheads would solve Voltigeurs goalie Anthony Morrone. This goal came on the power play to even the score at one.
But Drummondville would get back out in front late in the second period when Pierre-Olivier Joseph scored what would be the game-winner at 14:59.
The Voltigeurs would add another one with three seconds remaining in regulation as Halifax tried desperately to tie things up. That would kill off any comeback and Drummondville took the early 1-0 lead in the series.
Drummondville outshot Halifax by almost a two-to-one margin, 41 to 24. Of the 41 Drummondville shots, Mooseheads goalie Alexis Gravel got 38 of them while Morrone turned aside 23 of the 24 Mooseheads’ shots.
Chainey’s stat line read: the assist for a point, a minus-2 plus/minus, a shot on goal (which was a dangerous shot attempt according to the QMJHL scoresheet) and hit.
Game two of this series will take place from Drummondville tomorrow night at 7 PM.
We now move west as Ty Smith and the Spokane Chiefs were at the Langley Events Centre in Langley, British Columbia to take on the Vancouver Giants in game one of their WHL semifinal series.
The scoring was kicked off 6:25 into the first period when Lukas Svejkovsky put the Giants on the board to make it 1-0 Vancouver. That one came on the power play when Matt Leduc had been sent off for tripping at 4:50.
Dawson Holt doubled the Vancouver lead at 8:37 of the first, scoring from Owen Hardy to make it 2-0 going into the first break.
Coming out of the break, the Giants continued their onslaught when Hardy scored less than a minute into the second frame (57 seconds) to make it 3-0 Vancouver.
But the Chiefs would break up the shut out for Vancouver goalie David Tendeck at the 5:30 mark of the second. Adam Beckman scored from Ethan McIndoe and Jack Finley to make it 3-1, where it would stay through the remainder of the second period.
It would remain that way through the third period too until, with about four minutes remaining in regulation, Spokane pulled goaltender Bailey Brkin in an effort to get the game tied up.
Instead, Bowen Byram (a highly-ranked prospect for this year’s Draft as well) iced the game with an empty net goal to make it 4-1 Giants, which was our final.
Bailey ended the game with 26 saves on 29 shots faced (Vancouver finished with 30 shots because of the empty netter). Tendeck stopped 30 of 31 Spokane shots as he got the victory in game one.
Ty Smith’s stat line saw him a minus-2 plus/minus rating with one shot on goal.
Game two of this series (with Vancouver up 1-0 in the best-of-seven) takes place on Saturday, April 20 at 10 PM ET. We will have coverage of that for you here along with game two for the Oshawa-Ottawa and Halifax-Drummondville series as well.