Happy New Year from Team USA! Following last night's 4-1 win over Finland to clinch the second seed in Group B, the team will hold an optional skate at The Q from 1:30-2:00 p.m. PT. This evening, the team will have treatments and meetings before attending dinner at a nearby restaurant.
Tomorrow, the U.S. and Czech Republic will meet in a quarterfinal tilt here at Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre in Victoria, British Columbia. Puck drop is slated for 5 p.m. local time (8 p.m. ET) and will be televised live on NHL Network. The United States enters the 2019 IIHF World Junior Championship with a 10-7 record in 17 appearances, including four-straight quarterfinal wins. The playoff format was introduced in 1996. From 1977-95, teams played each other once in a round-robin format with medals awarded on final standings.
Tomorrow's matchup is Team USA's sixth quarterfinal meeting against the Czech Republic, the most of any team. The U.S. is 4-1 in quarterfinal meetings against the Czechs, 6-3 in playoff round meetings and holds an all-time record of 12-1-1-7-1 (W-OTW-OTL-L-T) all-time in 22 meetings. Last year, the two teams met in the bronze-medal game where the U.S. skated to a 9-3 victory. In the game, Trent Frederic (St. Louis, Mo./University of Wisconsin) netted four goals and Kieffer Bellows (Edina, Minn./Portland Winterhawks) added two goals.
During last night's postgame media availability, head coach Mike Hastings gave credit to players' effort that doesn't necessarily hit the scoresheet.
"You look at some of our guys tonight, a Noah Cates, a Logan Cockerill, boy were they tough players tonight," said Hastings. "There's also players like Jack St. Ivany, who saw his minutes jump tonight and we're real proud of the way he performed. You need players like that to be successful in a tournament like this. Everybody has a role, we've said that since day one, and they're examples of what happens when players on this team buy in to that mentality. Did they make the scoresheet? No, but their efforts and sacrifice helped others and that's how a team wins."
BUILDING A LEGACY
The term 'legacy' is one that continues to be reinforced by Team USA's staff. With the team now in the playoff round, it's a message that will be reinforced.
"When we talk about legacy, we talk about those who've come before us and the chance we have at how our own story will be remembered for those who follow," said Mike Hastings, head coach of the 2019 U.S. National Junior Team. "We've medaled in this tournament three-straight years, we have three gold medals since 2010. There's been a lot of success since then, but also some setbacks. How will we be remembered? That's up to the players and we're excited to see their story continue to unfold."
Speaking in Everett during Team USA's initial camp, John Vanbiesbrouck, assistant executive director of hockey operations for USA Hockey and general manager of the 2019 U.S. National Junior Team said, "The expectations for USA Hockey, year in and year out, is that we expect to contend. Some years we may be favored over others, but there's no surprise with us anymore. We're contenders every year and that's a credit to how far we've come as a hockey nation. That wasn't necessarily the mindset when I was playing in this tournament."