USA players react to losing to Slovakia’s in IIHF World Junior Championship preliminary action in Buffalo, N.Y. Thursday December 28, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mark Blinch

USA players react to losing to Slovakia’s in IIHF World Junior Championship preliminary action in Buffalo, N.Y. Thursday December 28, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mark Blinch

Slovakia scores late to upset U.S.

Slovakia 3 U.S. 2

BUFFALO, N.Y. — The Slovakian skaters swarmed goaltender Roman Durny to celebrate on the ice after upsetting the United States at the world junior hockey championship on Thursday.

“It’s like winning a medal,” forward Marian Studenic said. “It’s a big win for us. We’re a small state and this is an honourable feeling.”

Samuel Bucek scored an unassisted goal with 2:08 remaining in the third period to give Slovakia a 3-2 victory over the defending gold medallist Americans.

“We never really thought we could beat a USA,” Bucek said. “But we’ve done that because we’ve been playing really with patience and we stick with the process and we did the right things on the ice.”

Filip Krivoski scored the other two goals for Slovakia, and Durny made 43 saves in his world junior debut.

“Our goalie was outstanding,” Bucek said. “That was probably the main reason why we won tonight.”

Casey Mittlestadt and Brady Tkachuk had goals for the U.S., which had won nine straight world junior games entering the night. The U.S. began its streak with the 2016 bronze medal game and went undefeated in winning the gold medal last year in Toronto. The previous American record was eight consecutive victories from 2004-05.

“You’ve got to realize the stage and realize that you’re playing the world juniors,” Mittlestadt said. “You can’t take anyone for granted.”

The U.S. faces Canada in an outdoor game at the Buffalo Bills’ New Era Field on Friday afternoon.

In other preliminary-round games, Sweden beat the Czech Republic 3-1, Russia pulled away in the third period for a 5-2 victory over Switzerland and Finland defeated Denmark 4-1.

Slovakia is 4-13-1 all-time against the U.S. in the world junior championship and had lost six straight preliminary-round meetings since last defeating the U.S. in a 2009 quarterfinal.

Bucek made an outstanding individual effort to score the winning goal, manoeuvring around three defenders and circling behind the net before scoring on the rebound of a wraparound shot after Joseph Woll made the initial save.

Mittelstadt tied the game for U.S. with 3:11 left in the third period.

Following a 9-0 rout of Denmark on Tuesday, the U.S. got off to a sluggish start in a game it never led.

“The main thing we’ve got to work on is we’ve got to have a better start,” Mittlestadt said.

Krivosik gave Slovakia a 1-0 lead five minutes into the second period. He put Slovakia ahead 2-1 on a backhand with 4:45 left in the third period.

Ryan Poehling set up Tkachuk for the tying goal on a 2-on-1 midway through the second period. Woll stopped 22 shots.

Earlier, Alex Nylander had a goal and an assist and defenceman Rasmus Dahlin, the expected top pick in next year’s NHL draft, had two assists to lead Sweden.

Marcus Davidsson and Elias Pettersson also scored goals as Sweden improved to 2-0 in preliminary play. Filip Gustavsson made 24 saves.

Filip Zadina scored the Czech Republic goal to make it 2-1 late in the second period. Jakub Skarek stopped 34 shots.

Artur Kayumov and Georgi Ivanov scored third-period goals to lead Russia over Switzerland. Kim Kostin and Vladislav Syomin each had a goal and an assist, Andrei Svechnikov had two assists and Vitali Abramov scored an empty-netter for the Russians, who are 1-1 in preliminary play.

Marco Miranda and Ken Jager scored for Switzerland. Philip Wuthrich made 32 saves. Jager’s goal tied the game at 2-2 early in the third period before Kaymov scored the go-ahead goal with 8:58 remaining.

Juuso Valimaki and Henri Jokiharju both had a goal and assist for Finland in its win over Denmark.

Joona Koppanen and Aapeli Rasanen scored the other goals to give Finland a 2-0 lead in the first seven minutes. Miro Heiskanen had two assists and Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen needed to make just six saves. Finland improved to 1-1 in group play.

Kasper Krog stopped 58 shots for Denmark. Nikolaj Krag scored Denmark’s first of the tournament following a 9-0 loss to the United States in the opener.

Krag scored on a power play to make it 2-1 early in the second period. Finland pulled away when Valimaki and Jokihariu scored two minutes apart late in the period.

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