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Sochi 2014 Olympics: USA Beats Slovenia 5-1 in Men's Hockey
Photo Credit: Getty Images

Sochi 2014 Olympics: USA Beats Slovenia 5-1 in Men's Hockey

Feb 16 2014, 10:52pm CST | by

Phil Kessel of the NHL's Toronto Maple Leafs scored a hat trick to lead the United States to a 5-1 win over Slovenia on Feb. 16 and an outright berth in the quarterfinal round of the Sochi 2014 Olympics.

The United States beat Slovenia in men's hockey in the Sochi 2014 Olympics on Feb. 16.  It was Phil Kessel's hat trick -- the first ever by an American in more than ten years -- that lead the...

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Sochi 2014 Olympics: USA Beats Slovenia 5-1 in Men's Hockey

Feb 16 2014, 10:52pm CST | by

Sochi 2014 Olympics: USA Beats Slovenia 5-1 in Men's Hockey Photo Credit: Getty Images

Phil Kessel of the NHL's Toronto Maple Leafs scored a hat trick to lead the United States to a 5-1 win over Slovenia on Feb. 16 and an outright berth in the quarterfinal round of the Sochi 2014 Olympics.

The United States beat Slovenia in men's hockey in the Sochi 2014 Olympics on Feb. 16. 

It was Phil Kessel's hat trick -- the first ever by an American in more than ten years -- that lead the Americans to victory, per The Associated Press

"Phil Kessel is the first American in more than a decade to score a hat trick in an Olympic hockey tournament. 

"He's more interested in something no American has accomplished on Olympic ice since 1980 -- winning a gold medal. 

"Kessel scored two of his three goals within the opening five minutes to lead the U.S. to a 5-1 win against Slovenia on Sunday. The U.S. is undefeated through three games and if it can win three more, the nation will celebrate its first Olympic championship in hockey since the 'Mircale on Ice' at the Lake Placid Games. 

"No member of Team USA was alive when the the U.S. beat the Soviet Union in 1980 in one of the biggest upsets in sports history. But if they end up with gold around their neck on Sunday, this title won't be regarded as a miracle." 

Joe Pavelski assisted on Kessel's first two goals. The latter completed his hat trick at the 11:05 mark of the second period on a rebound and off assists by Pavelski and James van Riemsdyk. 

Ryan McDonogh scored just 1:12 later to further increase the lead to 4-0. Goaltender Ryan Miller of the NHL's Buffalo Sabres wound up with 17 saves for the United States, allowing one goal to Slovenia's Marcel Rodman with just 17 seconds left on the game clock. 

After the game, American center David Backes told USA Today Sports' Kevin Allen he has been impressed with Kessel's maturity on the ice. 

"He's a guy who has grown on the ice and he has shown he can handle the big-time situations. He is out there making plays all of the time. He's got composure. He doesn't get rattled when someone is in his face. That growth is great for our team. 

"He's a guy who is pouring them in the net and when you have a guy like that, you ride him as long as you can."

In his Feb. 16 report, Allen has carried his hot streak from the NHL into the Sochi Olympics. Prior to the Winter Games, he amassed 10 goals and 13 assists with the Toronto Maple Leafs. He has prompty added four more goals and three assists since taking the ice in Sochi.

Allen writes these are "Wayne Gretzky or Marioi Lemieux numbers."  

With their win over Slovenia, the Americans earned a quarterfinals berth in the 2014 Winter Olympics. They previously beat Slovakia and Russia to remain undefeated. During that streak, the United States has averaged five goals per contest while allowing an average of just one, per The Associated Press. 

The loss dropped Slovenia to a 1-2 win-loss record. Should the team beat Austria, it will take on Sweden in the quarterfinals. 

As for the United States, it awaits the winner of the showdown between the Czech Republic and Slovakia for its quarterfinal matchup.  

 

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Poch de la Rosa follows all major U.S. sports: NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL and the NCAA. His favorite teams are the Colts, Braves, Pacers, Sharks and Irish, respectively.

 

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