Game Recap: Europe 3, USA 0
Jaroslav Halak of Team Europe
By Sean Ambrosia
The 2016 edition of the World Cup Of Hockey began Saturday afternoon in Toronto with a 3-0 upset victory by Team Europe over Team USA.
Team Europe came out more confidently than expected, going up 1-0 at 4:19 of the first period on a goal by Marian Gaborik of Slovakia, giving them a lead they would never relinquish. The Europeans largely controlled the pace of play, limiting offensive opportunities for Team USA. The US looked flat and stymied on both sides of the puck for most of the game, and allowed 2 more goals in the 2nd period to give Team Europe a 3-0 victory.
The lone bright spot for the Americans came with late in the 2nd period when James Van Riemsdyk appeared to draw the Americans within one, scoring a powerplay goal with 5:50 remaining. However, the goal was overturned on video review, which determined that the puck had been illegally directed on net with Van Riemsdyk glove. Following the overturned call, momentum swung firmly back in Team Europe’s direction, and shortly before time expired in the period Frenchman Pierre-Edoudard Bellemare scored to put his squad up 3-0.
Jaroslav Halak was dominant in net for Team Europe, saving all 35 shots attempted at him, although the lackluster offense from Team USA meant that he didn’t face many spectacular scoring opportunities. The New York Islanders’ netminder made 11 of those saves on the penalty kill. Though he only appeared on the scoresheet once (on an assist on the Gaborik goal), Frans Neilsen had a solid game offensively for the Europeans, and was involved on a couple of scoring opportunities. Leon Draisaitl also had a good afternoon, recording the 2nd goal for Team Europe.
On the American side, the effort turned in by the big names on the roster especially left something to be desired. Early in the first, Patrick Kane turned over the puck in the offensive zone, leading to the goal by Gaborik. Jonathan Quick let in 3 goals on only 17 shot faced.
Unfortunately for Team USA, the short round-Robin format (each team plays only 3 games) means that even a single loss can be devastating. At the very least losing game one to Europe will make their remaining games, against the Czech Republic and Canada, into must wins. For Team Europe, today’s win proves their ability to compete and win against high level opponents. It also went a long way towards putting to rest any questions about the chemistry of a team comprised of players from 8 different countries who have never before played together internationally.