April 18, 2019
by Maria Tassone, photo by Steve Kingsman, IIHF Images
Caulfield hat trick leads USA in game 1
The passes were crisp, and play flowed from end to end as the host Swedes opened their tournament against the Americans. The first period saw them hold the lead, but it would end up the Cole Caufield show by the end of the game.
“The crowd was obviously on their side,” noted Team USA’s captain Jack Hughes, “For us we knew we needed to quiet it down, and when the crowd is dead the pressure builds for the Swedish players.”
Everyone was watching for Hughes to make an impact early, and he had the best chance on a power play for his team. Swedish goalie Hugo Alnefelt would prove a difference maker then, and again robbing Alex Turcotte with the glove (a common theme throughout the game).
With the crowd behind them, the Tre Kronor rushed the puck for a number of good scoring chances. It would be Simon Holmstrom to bring the crowd to their feet as he got a step on the defender and drove to the net, shoveling the puck in blocker side opening the scoring.
“It was great to score the goal, amazing,” Holmstrom said, “But it doesn’t matter much when the team loses.”
Sweden and the USA would exchange chances to start the second as both teams sent the puck just wide. The Americans would get on the board just under five minutes into the frame as Cole Caufield tapped the puck in at the side of the net off a great feed from Matthew Boldy. Only 38 seconds later, the red, white and blue would take the lead for the first time as John Beecher scored on his own rebound.
Hughes had the puck stolen from him at his defensive blueline by Alexander Holtz, but he backchecked, lifted Holtz’s stick and stole the puck away a foot from the American net. Holtz would come close again, this time he wired the puck just wide from the hash marks.
“I gave up that breakaway, so I had to get the puck back. I had to defend the team there,” Hughes remarked.
Sweden turned up the pressure with a flurry of chances at the end of the period, but goaltender Spencer Knight was able to protect his castle.
Case McCarthy added to USA’s total less than 30 seconds into the final frame, and Cole Caufield would add two more to his game total, marking the first hat trick in this year’s tournament. Alex Turcotte would net the final marker for the Americans, making the score 6-1.
Sweden now turns their attention to Latvia, and Holmstrom says the keys will be to play a high-speed game, “Shooting the puck and crashing the net more will hopefully get us some more goals.”