Day seven of the 2015 IIHF World Championship in Czech Republic was not one Team USA would like to remember. Here's what you need to know:
- USA lost their first game of the tournament to Belarus, 5-2. After a strong first 10 minutes of the game, USA allowed far too many odd-man rushes and breakaways and, in the second period, it caught up with them. Belarus scored three goals in the exact same way - cruising down the wing, uncontested, wrister, high, blocker side - within a five minutes span to open a 3-0 lead.
Just over a minute later, Jack Eichel sent a beautiful backhanded, cross-crease pass to Brock Nelson who found a gaping hole back door to pull within two. At the end of the second period, Trevor Lewis took a penalty for slashing to negate a power play opportunity for USA and, to make things worse, as it carried over into the third, Eichel took a penalty for tripping to give Belarus a 5-on-3 that they converted on.
Torey Krug would net a power play goal off another great feed by Eichel about five minutes later, but another breakaway for Belarus and another goal - this time five hole - would make it 5-2 final.
"We just fed their transition too much. A couple mishaps in the offensive zone that led to odd-man rushes for them and, obviously, they were able to capitalize on them," Eichel said."Every game means a lot here and this is a tough one to take but the good thing is we get another shot at redeeming ourselves tomorrow.
"Obviously, I think I could have been a lot better. There were times when I felt like I had my feet moving and things like that, but like I've said before, I just want to get better with each game and I hope I'm better tomorrow than I was today," he continued. "It was good to get some points and boost my confidence a bit, but we didn't do enough to win and that's what matters."
- Because of the low ticket sales for games not including Slovakia, Russia or, at times, Finland, tournament organizers donated tickets to local schools. That gave yesterday's game a matinee feel with hundreds of screaming children including some from the Galileo School - an international school that teaches in English and Spanish, just 20 minutes outside Ostrava - who decided to convert the red, white and blue of the Czech Republic to that of Team USA and lend their support from the onset of this game. The kids had flags and signs and their faces - and some stomachs - painted to really get into the spirit of things.
- In another near upset, Sweden defeated Germany 4-3. Sweden built a quick two goals lead midway through the first with two goals in 80 seconds, but the Germans fought back with a quick power play goal to pull within one and then another goal in the middle of the second to tie the game at two. In the third period, Sweden would add another two goals before German made them sweat again by scoring to pull within with just over five minutes left in regulation. Sweden, playing on back-to-back nights and coming off their 6-4 loss to Canada, was able to keep Germany off the board for the rest of the game and preserve the win.
- France came out strong against Czech Republic and they were scoreless after 20, but the French just couldn't keep up with the pace of the game or the Czechs offensive attack. They'd score twice in the second and three times in the third for a 5-1 win.
- Finland scored two goals 40 seconds apart early in the first and never looked back against Slovenia. They dominated the possession game and finished with a 4-0 final.
- Right now, Canada sits atop the Group A standings with 12 points with Sweden right on their heels with 11, but also having played one more game. Switzerland and Czech Republic round out the top four with Germany, France, Austria and Latvia presently jockeying for position in the bottom half and trying to avoid that eighth spot and subsequent relegation.
In group B, Belarus sit atop the standings with 10 points. USA, Russia and Finland are right behind them with nine points and have Slovakia breathing down their necks with 7 points. Norway, Denmark and Slovenia, still looking for their first point in the standings, are at the bottom trying to avoid the dreaded 8th spot.
On Friday at 10:15 a.m. ET, Czech Republic takes on Austria in Prague, while Slovenia takes on Norway in Ostrava. In the late games at 2:15 p.m. ET, Germany and Latvia battle in Prague, while USA looks for some redemption against Denmark in Ostrava on NBCSN.