Hockey

World juniors roundup: U.S., Czechs, Swedes open tournament with victories

The Americans waited until the third period to turn it on against Slovakia and avoid an upset. Trailing by a goal through 40 minutes, the United States scored twice in the third to beat Slovakia 2-1 on Wednesday in the first preliminary-round game for both squads at the 2019 world junior hockey championship.

Americans strike twice in 3rd to beat Slovakia; David Kvasnicka nets quick OT winner vs. Swiss

Switzerland goalie Luca Hollenstein makes a save on Matej Pekar (5) during the Czech Republic's 2-1 OT win on Wednesday at the world juniors. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press )

The Americans waited until the third period to turn it on against Slovakia and avoid an upset.

Trailing by a goal through 40 minutes, the United States scored twice in the third to beat Slovakia 2-1 on Wednesday in the first preliminary-round game for both squads at the 2019 world junior hockey championship.

Captain Mikey Anderson tied it 1:10 into the third before Evan Barratt scored the eventual winner a little over four minutes later for the U.S. (1-0-0) at Victoria's Save-On-Foods-Memorial Centre, where all Group B games are being held.

Barratt circled out from the corner and lifted a backhand over goaltender Samuel Hlavaj's glove from the hash marks with the Slovakian netminder screened on the play at 5:42, and the Americans held on from there.

"That game was far from perfect, but good teams have to find ways to win tough games and this team did that here tonight," said U.S. head coach Mike Hastings.

Marek Korencik scored for Slovakia (0-1-0) with 2:43 to go in the second to give his country a chance for the upset.

Jason Robertson was stoned twice in the second by Hlavaj to keep the game scoreless. First Robertson was stopped on a breakaway in the period's opening minute, then he was halted on a penalty shot.

American netminder Kyle Keyser made 13 saves for the win — including a stop on a penalty shot attempt from Andrej Kukuca with 6:45 to play and the Americans up a goal.

Hlavaj turned away 32 shots in defeat.

Sweden defeats Finland

And, defenceman Erik Brannstrom scored twice as Sweden toppled Finland 2-1 in the other Group B round-robin game.

Brannstrom opened the scoring in the first period and secured the victory with by stepping into a one-timer at the top of the circle on a 5-on-3 power play 3:55 into the second.

Samuel Ersson made 29 saves for Sweden (1-0-0) in his tournament debut.

Ukko-Pekka Lukkonen kept Finland (0-1-0) in it with 28 stops. Aarne Talvittie made it close with a power-play goal with 3:34 to play in the third.

Earlier, David Kvasnicka scored 52 seconds into overtime as the Czech Republic beat Switzerland 2-1 in the opening game of the tournament.

Kvasnicka took a pass from Martin Kaut and put a harmless looking wrist shot through traffic that beat a screened Luca Hollenstein over his glove hand.

Kaut scored at 9:02 of the second for the Czech Republic (1-0-0) to make it a 1-1 game through 40 minutes at Vancouver's Rogers Arena, where all Group A games are being held.

Nando Eggenberger gave Switzerland (0-1-0) a short-lived 1-0 lead with a power-play goal just 1:17 before Kaut responded for the Czechs.

Lukas Dostal made 26 saves for the win, while Hollenstein stopped 25-of-27 shots in defeat.

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