Kessel's hat trick leads U.S. men past Slovenia
USA forward James van Riemsdyk (21) attempts to deflect a shot past Slovenia goalie Luka Gracnar (40) in a men's ice hockey preliminary round game during the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games at Shayba Arena. (Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports)
Kessel scored the first of his three goals 64 seconds after the opening faceoff to spark Team USA to a 5-1 victory against Slovenia at Shayba Arena in Olympic men's hockey preliminary-round action on Sunday.
"It was certainly a concern after the emotional game and getting ready for this game," U.S. coach Dan Bylsma said. "In the end we were fortunate that right out of the gate we got a couple of great skill plays and two goals there to get us that lead. To get up like we did I thought that was very big for our team to look up and see the scoreboard and know that we were up in that game."
Team USA remained undefeated in three games and earned an automatic berth in the quarterfinals.
"Phil made a couple of good plays, a couple of good shots," Pavelski said. "I just try to get them the puck when I can. It is good he is on our side right now."
"When someone told me that, I didn't really believe them," Oshie said. "Someone actually showed it to me. For him to go out of his way from his busy life and take the time to congratulate my teammates and I is pretty special."
"I was kind of nervous when the coach told me I was playing," Miller said. "I knew how important it was to build on the victories we have achieved so far. I think we performed very well as a team."