It should not come as a surprise how successful Team USA‘s men’s hockey team has been in the preliminary rounds during the 2014 Sochi Olympics. Like Team Sweden, Team USA has dominated their groupings and after having swept their group, are now guaranteed a spot in the men’s quarterfinals. USA’s games have largely been high scoring games and Sunday was no different, as they rocked Team Slovenia in a 5-1 decision.
Team USA has been so successful because they have solid goaltending from both Jonathan Quick and Ryan Miller, and the players in front of them have been both offensively and defensively elite. There are a lot of NHL players on Team USA, but when you watch this team, you can see why these guys are in the league in the first place.
Although it was a true team effort, the star for the USA on Sunday was Toronto Maple Leafs‘ Phil Kessel. Kessel started the game on a high note for the team having scored the first goal of the game only a minute in. Then he did it again a few minutes later to give his team the lead. Kessel didn’t stop there, as midway into the second period he scored a third goal to log an Olympic Hat Trick. It was the first natural hat trick for Team USA since John LeClair‘s in the 2002 Winter Games. Kessel’s hat trick was the momentum that the team needed, but he did not act alone. San Jose Sharks‘ Joe Pavelski also deserves credit, as he assisted all three of Kessel’s goals.
Kessel and Pavelski’s teamwork on the ice was the turning point for Team USA on Sunday and it allowed the team to keep going. By the end of the game, they had five goals past Slovenia goaltender Luka Gracnar and took another glorious win.
If you’re not chanting “U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A!” right now, you need to sort out your patriotic priorities.