Following a 3-1 loss to the Americans on Sunday, Slovenia has been relegated to Division IA for the 2016 World Championships.
The goal for Slovenia was simple: get a point, they stay alive. Get two or three, they’d be in decent shape for their final meeting against Denmark. Slovenia came into the game against the Americans knowing that a loss in regulation would put an end to their efforts to stay alive in the top division of the World Championships, and with zero points to start the game, their chances didn’t look so good.
Four minutes into the game, the Americans had the game’s first goal. Brock Nelson has easily been the best American forward throughout the tournament, so his quick wrist shot beating Robert Kristian just four minutes into the first period didn’t seem too surprising. The quick one at the side of the net gave him his fifth goal in six games, grabbing his seventh point to tie his offensive output from the tournament in Belarus last May.
With four minutes left in the period, Nelson would grab his sixth goal in as many games. Justin Faulk, one of the better defenseman on the Americans, took a shot from the centre point and Nelson was right there to scoop up the rebound to take the 2-0 lead heading into the intermission.
After some incredible goaltending by Connor Hellebuyck in the American net, Slovenia would finally get one past the Winnipeg Jets prospect after Jan Music fired one past his glove of Hellebuyck from the slot with six minutes off the clock. The goal came rather easily for Music, who took advantage of the slow moving American defense to split through the middle undetected before sending the puck into the back of the net.
The goal was a big one for the Slovenians. Yes, they still hadn’t taken the lead in the game, but they did manage to limit the Americans to three shots in the entire second period. After 40 minutes of play, the Slovenians held a 14-12 shot advantage, pouring on the pressure late in hopes of finding a way to crack Hellebuyck before the third period.
Despite all the excitement for the team in blue and green, it would be the Americans striking next. Nelson took a shot on a rebound on what was pretty much an empty net. Nelson wouldn’t actually grab the hat-trick goal, however, as Jack Eichel was right there to tip the puck in at the last second to get his first ever World Championship goal. His goal would be the killer for the Slovenians, who couldn’t generate any goals when it mattered most to allow the Americans to take the 3-1 victory.
With the loss, Slovenia has been relegated to Division IA for the 2016 tournament. Hungary, making their first appearance in the top tournament since 2009, will play in Group B in hopes of finally recording their first World Championship win. For the Americans, the Americans find themselves in first place in Group B, recording 15 points with a game left to play.
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