December 30, 1998
SELKIRK, Manitoba - Michal Hudec's empty-net goal with 26 seconds left in regulation proved to be the difference as Slovakia defeated the United States, 3-2, in continuing World Junior Hockey Championship action Wednesday night at Selkirk Recreational Center.
Notre Dame sophomore left wing Dan Carlson, one of 12 forwards and 15 collegians on the USA roster, did not factor into the team scoring.
The win pushed Slovakia (3-0-1) atop the Group A standings in the round-robin, two-pool format. The USA (0-3-0) now has no chance at becoming one of three teams from Group A to advance to the medal round and will look to end round-robin play on Dec. 31 with an upset win over rival Canada (2-0-1).
The USA-Canada game will be televised live in the USA by Fox Sports New England and east-coast Comcast networks, with a 6:00 p.m. eastern start time. The USA then will conclude tournament play with "relegation" games on Jan. 3 and 4 (vs. the fourth and fifth-place teams from Group B).
The USA appeared to break a 2-2 tie with two minutes remaining, when Tim Connelly rushed in and poked a loose puck into the net. But the goal was disallowed by the referee, who appeared to have his view of the play impeded by players in the crease.
Knowing that it needed a victory to maintain a shot at the medal round, the USA removed goaltender Chris Madden from the game and inserted a sixth skater in the game's final minute. But Slovakia gained control of the puck and Hudec fired a shot from the left boards into the empty net (19:34).
A scoreless first period saw the USA own an 11-3 edge in shots, with the first goal coming at 4:02 of the second period when Slovakia's Miroslav Salesak sent a shot from between the circles over Madden's glove hand. But the USA tied the game four minutes later, when University of Maine left wing Barrett Heisten pushed the puck out of the corner to set up a quick shot from the top of the crease by Boston College right wing Brian Gionta (8:15).
The USA claimed a 2-1 lead early in the third period, as crisp passes from Colorado College right wing Justin Morrison and Lake Superior left wing Mike Vigilante found Maine defenseman Doug Janik streaking over the blue line. Janik pushed a shot over Jan Lasak's glove hand for the 2-1 lead (3:24).
A lucky bounce helped tie the game several minutes later, as a bank pass from University of Minnesota defenseman Jordan Leopold landed in front of the net. The puck came directly to Slovakia's Roman Maczosek, who faked a shot on a stunned Madden and tucked in a backhander for a 2-2 game (7:24).
Slovakia finished with a 32-28 edge in shots while the USA was guilty of nine penalties to Slovakia's five.