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WHC Update: USA climbs to the top

JVR leads Americans past Germany; Voracek among tournament leaders

by Bill Meltzer @billmeltzer

After Team USA, Canada and two-time defending gold medalist Sweden all suffered mild upset losses on the opening day of the 2019 IIHF World Championships in Slovakia, all of the favored teams have won their games in the days that have followed. 

On Sunday, however, Germany threw a scare into Team USA. The Americans trailed first and the game was tied 1-1 until the middle stage of the third period before USA pulled away for a 3-1 win and a 5-1-0 overall record with one of the wins coming in overtime against Finland.

A nice tip-in goal by Flyers left winger James van Riemsdyk tied the game at 1-1 late in the first period. Early in the third period, he nearly duplicated the feat. Midway through the frame, JVR executed a gorgeous saucer pass over two German sticks to Dylan Larkin, who buried a shot for a 2-1 American lead. JVR now has 5 points (2g-3a) in six games. Team USA wraps up pool play on Tuesday with a marquee game against Canada.

Tweet from @IIHFHockey: Highlights: @JVReemer21 had a goal and a helper in a 3-1 @usahockey win over @deb_teams on Day 10 at #IIHFWorlds @NHLFlyers More game highlights >https://t.co/LZ0SQWQwmc pic.twitter.com/ZXcRcQjnq0

Also on Sunday, Flyers right winger Jakub Voracek collected two more assists as the Czech Republic (5-1-0) blew out winless Austria 8-0 to improve to 5-1-0 in the preliminary round.

Voracek now has 12 points (2g-10a) in six games, which ranks fourth overall in the tournament's scoring race. Teammate Radko Gudas assisted on the first two Czech goals for his third and fourth points (1g-3a) of the tourney to go along with a cumulative +9 rating. 

Flyers left winger Michael Raffl (2g) was rested by the Austrians, who next face a must-win game against Italy to avoid relegation.

Team Canada, coached by Alain Vigneault and featuring Sean Couturier (1g-1a), Philippe Myers (2 gp) and Carter Hart (2-0-0, 33 saves on 35 shots, 1 SO), return to action on Monday against Denmark. 

Sweden (4-1-0), featuring Oskar Lindblom (3g, 1a) and Robert Hägg (4 gp, dressed as a seventh defenseman last game but did not skate a shift), plays Latvia on Monday.

The medal round will begin on Thursday, May 23 with Canada and the United States already securing a berth in Group A, while Sweden and the Czechs are firmly in as well, but plenty more on the line in terms of positioning between the the four clubs.

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