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Men's ice hockey Day 5 Round Up: Team USA top Group A after win over Germany, Finland edge thriller against Sweden

USA, Finland and Sweden join ROC in booking quarter-final spots; Slovakia earn first Beijing 2022 win.

4 min By Scott Bregman
Team USA v GER
(Picture by 2022 Getty Images)

The United States men claimed top spot in Group A after a narrow 3-2 win over Germany, while Slovakia defeated Latvia for their first win in the Beijing 2022 men's ice hockey tournament on Sunday (13 February).

USA's Nathan Smith said, "It's huge. I think it proves that we can win these close games and, down the road, that's going to be big for us. It's just a big momentum shift for us."

Elsewhere, Finland toppled Sweden in a 4-3 overtime thriller but both teams went through to the quarter-finals automatically with Sweden progressing as best runners-up.

And Canada shut out China 5-0 with the teams meeting again in Tuesday's qualification playoffs.

Those four qualifications playoffs see Slovakia play Germany, Denmark meet Latvia, Czech Republic take on Switzerland, and China's rematch with Canada.

Slovakia 5, Latvia 2

Slovakia earned their first win of the tournament with a commanding 5-2 victory over Latvia.

The first period ended at 1-1 after Slovakia's Martin Marincin (11:00) and Latvia's Ronalds Kenins (15:46) found the net.

Slovakia started to pull away in the second period thanks to Peter Cehlarik and Juraj Slafkovsky's fourth goal of the tournament.

Before today, Slafkovsky had been Slovakia's only goalscorer in Beijing.

Latvia's Miks Indrasis closed the gap to one early in the third period, but Peter Zuzin found the net at 49:21 for Slovakia and Tomas Jurco rounded off the scoring with a long range empty-netter inside the final second.

“It is good for the team and good for us that other guys have finally scored," said Jurco. “It is great that some other guys get on the board.”

Libor Hudacek #79 of Team Slovakia and Uvis Balinskis #26 of Team Latvia skate in front of the net in the third period
Libor Hudacek #79 of Team Slovakia and Uvis Balinskis #26 of Team Latvia skate in front of the net in the third period (2022 Getty Images)

USA 3, Germany 2

Needing a win or to force overtime to win Group A, Team USA rose to the occasion.

They made it three wins out of three although they conceded the opening goal and had to hold on at the end.

PyeongChang 2018 silver medallists Germany stuck first and early off a powerplay goal by Patrick Hager after just two minutes, a familiar position for the Americans who trailed early against Canada in their previous game.

But just as in that encounter, the U.S. squad responded quickly with Steven Kampfer scoring the equaliser at 4:26.

Early in the second period, Matt Knies scored to put USA in front.

"Honestly, they're a fast team, if we can keep up to that pace and play around with them, play physical, I think we can take it to them and eventually win this game," said Knies in the break prior to the final period on U.S. broadcaster NBC.

That's exactly what Team USA did with Nathan Smith scoring at 42:47 to make it 3-1.

Tom Kuhnhackl pulled one back with two and a half minutes remaining, but Germany could not score the tying goal to force overtime.

USA's Nathan Smith (R) celebrates his goal against Germany
USA's Nathan Smith (R) celebrates his goal against Germany (2022 Getty Images)

Finland 4, Sweden 3 (OT)

Team Finland clawed its way back from a 0-3 deficit against Sweden after two periods, winning thanks to a goal 2:01 into overtime from Harri Pesonen.

"It's a memorable goal. I haven't scored that many overtime goals three-on-three so I'm going to remember this," said Pesonen. "But hopefully the best goals are still coming when we really need them."

Both teams contained their scoring in single periods, with Sweden scoring three times - through Lucas Wallmark, Lukas Bengtsson and Anton Lander - in just over six minutes during the second period.

But Finland hit back in the final period, with Teemu Hartikainen finding the net before Iiro Pakarinen scored at 55:30 and then again a minute and a half later to tie it up.

"When you're losing three to nothing, it's not easy to come back, especially scoring three goals in the third (period)," said Pakarinen. "It's really nice to win the game in overtime. It gives us a lot of confidence."

Finland finished top of Group C with three wins out of three, but a point for losing in overtime saw Sweden join them as the best group runners-up.

Finland's Harri Pesonen (#82) is mobbed by teammates after his overtime winner against Sweden
Finland's Harri Pesonen (#82) is mobbed by teammates after his overtime winner against Sweden (ge GETTY IMAGES)

People's Republic of China 0, Canada 5

Canada cruised to a 5-0 victory over hosts China.

The reigning Olympic bronze medallists were three in front midway through the first period thanks to goals from Ben Street, Adam Tambellini and Eric O'Dell.

The action quieted down in the second period with Kent Johnson of Team Canada scoring the period's lone goal at 38:03 to make it 4-0.

And Corban Knight scored at 46:23 to complete a comfortable victory.

"We had a pretty good game and over our line we played well," said O'Dell. "I think we need to build off that and just look through to the next game, where I hear that we will play them again. We need to play the same way then."

Schedule - Tuesday, 15 February

Here's a look at Tuesday's qualification play-off match ups. All times local to Beijing:

12:10 Slovakia v. Germany
12:10 Denmark v. Latvia

16:40 Czech Republic v. Switzerland
21:10 Canada v. China

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