After losing their tournament opener, Team USA has won five straight at the Worlds, thanks in large part to the play of LA Kings netminder Cal Petersen.
Once upon a time, a matchup against Germany meant an easy two points for any of the international hockey powerhouses. That’s not the way it is anymore, though, as the Germans have established themselves as a formidable force on the ice, and the 2021 World Championship is no exception to this. As a result, Team USA, led by LA Kings goaltender Cal Petersen, was in tough on Monday.
Winners of their last four games, Team USA put their winning streak on the line on Monday. What was anticipated to be a close game was just that as the Americans and Germans fought hard in a good defensive battle. In the end, though, Team USA had just enough to extend their winning streak thanks to a 2-0 victory. Dallas Stars rookie Jason Robertson opened the scoring while Colin Blackwell of the New York Rangers added an empty-netter to solidify the victory.
Germany outshot Team USA by a 33-15 margin but the aforementioned Cal Petersen was on his game for his native country, picking up his second shutout of the tournament to preserve the victory for Team USA that puts them through to the medal round.
Following his team’s victory, Petersen spoke to the media, beginning with a late-game push from a German team itching to get on the board.
“I mean, I think we knew that they were going to push, obviously, being down,” he said. “So, that was, I think, expected and, and theirs is a team that moves the puck really well, they got a lot of guys in front of the net. So, I knew they were going to try and do that: Clog up the middle and get a lot of screens and rebounds. So, just one of those things but the team did a really good job of boxing out guys, but I saw a lot of shots, which is great and I was able to control those rebounds that I saw. So, again, it was a group effort, shutting it down and getting the win in a tight game.”
While this year’s World Championship is a great way for younger players like Petersen to further develop their respective games, the Kings netminder is more focused on the medal round and hopefully guiding Team USA to gold.
“We just want to play our best hockey going into the playoffs,” Petersen said. “The first goal was to obviously make it to the knockout rounds and I think we’ve done what we needed to do to get there and now it’s our turn to show what we can do and show the structure that’s proven to win so far and prelims and bring it forward, and bring our game to a new level.”
While he has been exceptional in goal thus far in Riga, Petersen didn’t hesitate to give his team’s defense and penalty kill their rightful due.
For the penalty-killing unit especially, Team USA has boasted one of the best at these Worlds, boasting a remarkable 94.12 percent. This ties them for the tournament lead with host Latvia, allowing just one power-play goal in 17 penalty-killing opportunities.
“A lot of sacrifice from the guys blocking shots. That’s the biggest thing,” the Kings netminder stressed. “Not only does it help me out, getting the block, I think it’s it’s huge for momentum. It takes away momentum from the power play and gives it to us and I think it energizes the bench. So, I think, we’ve proven so far in this tournament, that there’s a lot of guys on our team that are willing to block shots, willing to sacrifice their bodies, and that’s what you need to hopefully win a championship. So, I think, that’s been kind of the epitome of our team and I think we’re planning on doing the same thing moving forward.”
As for the rest of the LA Kings, while Trevor Moore and Christian Wolanin had quiet games, defenseman Matt Roy finished the contest with a plus-one rating, one shot on goal, and 20:29 of total ice time.
Team USA closes out their preliminary schedule on Tuesday at 9:15 am ET (6:15 am PT) against Italy.
Canada at .500
After losing their first three games of the tournament, Team Canada has turned things around in Riga, having won their third-straight game on Sunday with a convincing 7-1 victory over Italy.
Jaret Anderson-Dolan notched an assist en route.
The Canadians, however, will close out their preliminary schedule in an unenviable way on Tuesday as they face Finland, which has yet to lose in regulation at this tournament. The game begins at 5:15 am ET (2:15 am PT).