If a hot goalie is the equalizer, the U.S. National Junior Team better have paid strict attention to Slovakia's Dominik Riecicky.
Riecicky was an absolute one-man machine in the Slovakia net Monday, turning aside 47 shots on the way to leading his country to a 2-1 overtime victory against Germany in preliminary-round action in Group A at HSBC Arena. It would be surprising if Slovakia coach Stefan Mikes didn't have Riecicky right back between the pipes against Team USA on Tuesday (8 p.m. ET, NHLN-US).
Riecicky, of course, wants that opportunity.
"I'd like to play against U.S. and for me it's high motivation because the championship is on their own soil," Riecicky said. "I'd love to see what happens."
Riecicky made 16 saves in the first, 17 in the second and 13 in the third. Marek Hrivik
, who is eligible for the 2011 Entry Draft, deflected home a picturesque feed from Slovakia captain Richard Panik
in the slot 3:39 into overtime to give Slovakia the decision.
"The first two periods were very tough for us, they had 34 shots and we had 17," Riecicky said. "But I thought in the third we were a better team and we had the momentum."
Panik, a Tampa Bay Lightning
prospect, had a goal and an assist in the first game of his third World Junior Championship. Germany had pulled into a 1-1 tie 16:46 into the second when Norman Hauner
jammed in a rebound in the crease.
Slovakia forward Tomas Jurco
, a possible first-round pick in the June draft, was elated his country came away victorious and feels anything is possible against the U.S.
"It was a pretty hard game and we're really happy," Jurco said. "We're happy we stayed focused to the end, and it's a really big win for us. Our goalie was awesome. He had a few great saves and he's the goalie, so he's very good for us.
"If he plays against the U.S. like he did tonight, I'd say it's going to be a really hard game for USA because we can also play good defensively."
Meanwhile, at Dwyer Arena on the campus of Niagara University, Tampa Bay prospect Tomas Rachunek
and Antonin Honejsek
of the Western Hockey League's Moose Jaw Warriors had goals to lead the Czech Republic to a 2-0 victory against Norway in Group B action.
turned aside all 21 shots he faced for the Czechs. Norway's Steffen Soberg
made 36 saves in defeat.
Germany next will face Finland on Wednesday at HSBC Arena, while the Czech Republic will play Canada on Tuesday (4 p.m. ET, NHLN-US, TSN), also at HSBC. Norway next plays Wednesday, against Canada (7:30 p.m. ET, NHLN-US, TSN).
In case you missed it, NHL.com spoke to Czech Republic assistant coach Jiri Fischer
about the future of Czech hockey on an international stage.