LAPPEENRANTA, Finland - Jack Eichel (North Chelmsford, Mass.) notched one goal and earned two assists, and Johnathan MacLeod (Dracut, Mass.) scored two power-play goals, as the U.S. Men's National Under-18 Team downed Slovakia, 6-2, in quarterfinal action here this afternoon at Lappeenranta Arena. With the win, Team USA advances to the semifinals of the 2014 International Ice Hockey Federation Men's Under-18 World Championship.
The United States struck first just 54 seconds into the opening period. After Slovakia committed a turnover in front of its own net, Eichel found himself one-on-one with goaltender Matej Tomek. Eichel quickly deked around Tomek and stuffed the puck past him for the goal. MacLeod doubled the U.S. lead with a power-play marker at 3:28. MacLeod fired a hard shot that struck Tomek's leg pad, but snuck underneath the goaltender and into the cage. Eichel picked up an assist on the play. Team USA struck again with 2:52 remaining in the period when Anders Bjork (Mequon, Wis.) took a centering feed from Eichel and wristed it past Tomek. Sonny Milano (Massapequa, N.Y.) recorded the secondary assist. Team USA did not allow a shot on net in the period.
The U.S. continued its offensive attack four minutes into the second stanza off the stick of Auston Matthews (Scottsdale, Ariz.). Jack Glover (Golden Valley, Minn.) fed Kyle Connor (Shelby Township, Mich.) with a pass that sent the forward streaking up the middle of the ice. Connor drew the goalie to one side of the net before hitting Matthews with a cross-ice pass for the chip-in goal.
Slovakia found the back of the net at 6:17 of the final frame before MacLeod responded 2:13 later with his second power-play marker of the day. Alex Tuch (Baldwinsville, N.Y.) found MacLeod standing on the blue line for the one-timer score. Nolan Stevens (Manhattan Beach, Calif.) potted a power-play goal of his own at 12:37, teaming up with Ryan Collins (Bloomington, Minn.) to push the U.S. lead to 6-1. Slovakia answered with a five-on-three goal at 15:30, but would get no closer as Team USA secured a 6-2 victory and berth in the semifinal round.
The U.S. Men's National Under-18 Team will next face the winner of the Finland - Sweden matchup held at Lappeenranta Arena later this evening. Game times for each semifinal round contest are 8 a.m. and 11 a.m. EDT on Saturday (April 26), also to be held in Lappeenranta. Team USA's game will be broadcast live, for free, on FASTHockey.com.