Do you believe in miracles?
The world junior hockey championship has its first big upset. And, unfortunately for the host country, it came at the expense of Team USA.
In a total shocker, Slovakia defeated the defending champions 3-2 at the KeyBank Center on Thursday. It was Slovakia’s first win of the tournament, coming just a day after losing 6-0 to Canada.
Led by backup goaltender Roman Durny, who stopped 43 of 45 shots, and a three-point night from undrafted forward Samuel Bucek, who scored the winner with 2:08 remaining in the third period, Slovakia never trailed in the game. After a scoreless first period, the Slovaks took a 1-0 lead in the second and then twice regained the lead after tying goals from 2018 draft-eligible forward Brady Tkachuk and Buffalo Sabres prospect Casey Mittelstadt. By the time the buzzer sounded, giving Slovakia its first win against the U.S. since 2009, the players celebrated as though they had won gold.
“This is like a dream,” Marian Studenic told reporters. “I’m so proud of these guys.”
The U.S., meanwhile, won’t have much time to lick its wounds.
The team plays an outdoor game against Canada at 3 p.m. on Friday — where another loss would assure Canada of clinching first place in Group A — and faces another tough opponent in Finland on New Year’s Eve.