2023 World Juniors: Breaking Down USA’s Quarterfinal Win Over Germany

MONCTON, New Brunswick – Team USA got off to a hot start and almost never looked back as they cruised past Germany 11-1 in their quarterfinal matchup to win Group B in the preliminary round. They will await the result of Canada and Slovakia to determine which team they will play in the semi-finals. If Canada wins, they will play Canada. If Slovakia wins, the USA will play Sweden.

Team USA posted the biggest quarterfinal win in world junior history with a plus-10 margin over Germany. The previous record was seven, achieved twice in the past decade.

The USA got off to a hot start with three unanswered in the first 8:39 of the game, starting with Logan Cooley’s (ARI) goal just 3:51 into the game. They scored five goals in the second half and three more in the third. USA’s Trey Augustine (2023) was relieved in the third period and Andrew Oke made his tournament debut, stopping seven of eight shots.

Here are some quick observations from the quarterfinal win and some standout player notes.

Another hot start

For the second game in a row, the U.S. started on time and flew out. They jumped into Germany early and didn’t let up. They scored three goals in the first half of the period and looked set to add a fourth from Charlie Stramel (2023), but that goal was ruled out for offside.

The USA allowed just two shots on goal in the first half and had complete control of the puck.

Every line contributed and it seemed like every time the USA got the puck, they were a threat to score. A quick start can be very important in these late games. The less they have to chase, the better. That’s two games in a row in which they’ve jumped out at the start.

Finding your footing after a lull

This USA team still hasn’t played a perfect 60 minutes of hockey and that was true in this game. After the shutout, the USA didn’t play their A game for the rest of the first half. They hit just three shots per nine the rest of the way.

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They got a little sloppy and a little loose. That continued well into the second half, but after the first media timeout, they woke up again. Team USA scored three goals in just 1:16 to make it 6-0 and leave no doubt.

They finally put the game away and didn’t let the loss of momentum soak in for too long. They can’t do that against the better teams, but you also have to prove that you can bounce back from a bit of a loss.

Ryan Ufko’s brush with history

With an assist on each of the USA’s first three goals, I thought we might be on the lookout for Ryan Ufko’s (NSH) records. When he had his fourth assist in the second half, things got a little more serious. The record for points scored by a defender was achieved in 1987 – seven.

Ufko added another assist to finish with five and was named the USA’s MVP.

Coach Rand Pecknold said he was one of the players who really stepped up in the tournament and took his game to an even higher level.

The plan for this team has always been the defensive corps. They have mobile puck-moving defensemen who can make big plays, and Ufko has become one of the key players on this team.

He has top-notch hockey sense and excellent vision. His pass to Red Savage’s goal to make it 3-0 was a hell of a beauty, making everyone bite the bullet until he found a better option.

Ufko noted after the game that the U.S. wants to have a lot of the puck and that’s part of the job for this team’s defensemen. They need to move the puck effectively for this team to find success, and not just USA’s No. 1 point guard. 1 Luke Hughes (NJD), few do it as masterfully as Ufko.

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Discipline

In a game that could have spiraled out of control, the USA kept their composure and did not take any unnecessary penalties during the game. They ended the match with two penalties against and killed them both.

The US PK was solid, but you don’t want to force yourself to kill a bunch of penalties. Discipline hasn’t been too much of an issue in this tournament, though it has hurt Team USA in its only loss. They have been among the least penalized teams at the World Juniors so far, picking up just 14 minor penalties in their first game. This is a good sign for a tough semi-final.

Notes from US players

Ryan Ufko (NSH): Ufko did a tremendous job getting pucks up the ice and getting pucks to the net. He’s been fine with that for most of the tournament, but he caught fire in this tournament. Every time you looked up, he had another assistant. Ufko’s confidence continues to grow in this tournament and he continues to be rewarded with meaningful minutes. He became a real top-four defender for this team.

Logan Cooley (ARI): With three goals and an assist, it was another dominant performance from Cooley, who now leads the U.S. team with 11 points in five games. Cooley opened the scoring with a beautiful goal, hugging a defender and firing a quick shot past the keeper. Cooley played fast, played skillfully and dominated the offensive elements of the game.

Cutter Gauthier (PHI): Having not scored a single goal in the tournament so far, G. Gauthier scored two goals in the match against Germany. After the game, he said he felt like he got the monkey off his back and hopes it’s a sign of things to come. Gauthier has played extremely well throughout the tournament, but he scored and really felt the pressure to score. Now that’s gone and maybe that will open the floodgates for him.

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Red Wild (DET): Scoring a pair of goals, including shorthanded markers, Savage left his mark on the game in a variety of ways. His speed and tenacity on the puck are so disruptive to opponents. But he also finishes well. Savage has three goals and two assists so far in the tournament. His work on the PK has been impressive and gives the US a center to match up against anyone.

Jimmy Snuggerud (STL): With another multi-point game, Snuggerud continued his impressive performance at this World Junior Championship with a three-game winning streak. Snuggerud made the second US powerhouse more lethal with his presence. This gives the US two formidable units that are hard to match. Meanwhile, Snuggerud continues to positively impact every play in all three zones.

Dylan Duke (TBL): It was a bit of a quiet tournament for Duke, who had a very good season at Michigan. He managed to score two points in the match against Germany and made a positive impact overall. He made a lot of simple plays, but today he showed his ability to get to the net and create a little bit.

Charlie Stramel (2023): He had a goal disallowed on the sidelines so he didn’t have any points in the game, but I think this World Junior showed Stramel very positively. He was a key penalty killer, he plays with pace and no matter who the US play in the semis, they need his size in the middle.


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