MOSCOW, Russia – Phil Kessel (Madison, Wis./Boston Bruins/University of Minnesota) and Brandon Bochenski (Blaine, Minn./Boston Bruins/University of North Dakota) each recorded a goal and an assist and John Grahame (Denver, Colo./Carolina Hurricanes/Lake Superior State University) made 29 saves to lead the U.S. Men’s National Team to a 4-2 victory tonight over Slovakia in the first qualification-round game for both teams at the 2007 International Ice Hockey Federation World Championship.
“We’re certainly very pleased with the win,” said Mike Sullivan, head coach of Team USA. “Slovakia came out strong and I thought John Grahame really played well early and that was key for us. The encouraging thing for our team is that we’ve been getting contributions throughout the lineup.”
Andrew Hutchinson (Evanston, Ill./Carolina Hurricanes/Michigan State University) put the United States on the scoreboard first at 8: 17 of the opening period on a blast from the blue line. David Backes
(Minneapolis, Minn./St. Louis Blues/Minnesota State University Mankato) made it a 2-0 contest at 12:27 when he intercepted a pass with Team USA shorthanded and skated in on a breakaway before putting a backhander into the upper left corner of the net.
Grahame stopped 17-of-18 shots in the first period, with the lone blemish coming on a Zdeno Chara power-play tally at 13:08.
Team USA scored the only two goals of the second period to make it a 4-1 game. Kessel recorded his second goal of the tournament on a shot that bounced off a Slovak defender at 4:52, followed by a Bochenski power-play tally from the goalmouth at 12:37.
Slovakia’s Marian Gaborik capitalized on a breakaway after coming out of the penalty box at 11:21 to account for the only goal of the third period. Grahame made several key saves down the stretch to seal the game for the United States, including a point-blank stop on Tomas Starosta with just under seven minutes left in regulation.
The United States will face off against Germany on Saturday (May 5) at 4:15 p.m. (local time)/8:15 a.m. (EDT) in the second qualification-round game for both teams.