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Kessel continues scoring tear as U.S. routs Slovenia, clinches Group A

Feb 16, 2014, 9:45 AM EDT

USA forward Phil Kessel, right, watches as his third goal sails past Slovenia goaltender Luka Gracnar during the third period of a men's ice hockey game at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Sunday, Feb. 16, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum, Pool) AP

The U.S. got a new hero today as Phil Kessel scored the country’s first Olympic hat trick in 12 years to lead the Americans to a 5-1 victory over Slovenia, completing a sweep of Group A in the process.

Kessel and Toronto teammate James van Riemsdyk have clicked in the Olympics, but it was the third member of that line — San Jose’s Joe Pavelski — that set up all three of Kessel’s goals today.

Kessel now has a tournament-leading seven points through three contests.

America also got goals from Ryan McDonagh and David Backes as an incredible 10 different American players have found the back of the net this tournament. That’s four more than each of Sweden and Russia.

Although today’s final score was as lopsided (as expected) in a match between one of the world’s top hockey nations and a country with just one NHL player, there were patches of this game were Slovenia put pressure on America, especially in the first period. United States goaltender Ryan Miller, playing in his first contest of the tournament, had to work hard and came 17.6 seconds short of the shutout.

VIDEO: Watch Phil Kessel’s hat trick

With this victory, the Americans have earned a bye past the qualification round, but they will have to wait for the outcome of the Canada-Finland to determine their exact seed.

If Finland or Canada win in regulation, then the United States will end up with the third seed, but if that game goes to overtime, then the Americans might move up to the second spot.

Given that the Slovenians managed to upset Slovakia, they have earned the eighth seed and will play Austria in the qualification round. Slovenia has already surpassed expectations for its first Olympic tournament, but it has a decent chance of advancing to the quarterfinals.

  1. theageofquarrel - Feb 16, 2014 at 10:57 AM

    ‘Murica!!!

  2. boltman23 - Feb 16, 2014 at 11:14 AM

    Do you mean first USA hat trick in 12 years? Carter for Canada had a hat trick the other day.

    • Mike Halford - Feb 16, 2014 at 11:21 AM

      “The U.S. got a new hero today as Phil Kessel scored the country’s first Olympic hat trick in 12 years.”

  3. penvik - Feb 16, 2014 at 11:28 AM

    Two olympic hattricks for two guys who aren’t that good. At least Phil deserves those goals, Carter scored the 3 easiest/ugliest/luckiest goals. He’s fanned on a shot or fumbled the puck countless times. USA will lose because of team defense

  4. penvik - Feb 16, 2014 at 11:28 AM

    Two olympic hattricks for two guys who aren’t that good. At least Phil deserves those goals, Carter scored the 3 easiest/ugliest/luckiest goals. He’s fanned on a shot or fumbled the puck countless times. USA will lose because of team defense

  5. hockeyflow33 - Feb 16, 2014 at 1:59 PM

    I wish the Bruins could get guys like him!

  6. hammerhead5573 - Feb 16, 2014 at 2:05 PM

    Yup, terrible team defense, given up 4 goals in 3 games. That’s just terrible. Don’t even know why they show up playing that bad.

    • badgerhockey77 - Feb 16, 2014 at 7:38 PM

      And actually its 3 goals in 3 games. The goal Slovakia scored was offside.

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