Americans, Czechs open world junior championship with victories

United States 2, Slovakia 1

Czech Republic 2, Switzerland 1

VICTORIA — 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.

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.

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.

The Canadian Press

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