Belarus handed the U.S. its first loss at the World Hockey Championship, a 5-2 defeat, in arguably Belarus’ biggest upset since the 2002 Olympics in Ostrava, Czech Republic, on Thursday.
The U.S., with one Olympian on its roster, entered the game having won its first three games of the tournament for the first time since 1997 and seeking its first four-victory start since 1939.
Belarus, guided by former NHL defenseman and Detroit Red Wings coach Dave Lewis, has zero NHL players on its World Championship roster but includes the former NHL forward brother tandem of Andrei and Sergei Kostitsyn.
Belarus scored the game’s first three goals in the second period on AHL goalie Jack Campbell. The U.S., which outshot Belarus, closed to 4-2 in the third period with goals from Brock Nelson and Torey Krug.
Belarus moved atop the Group B standings with 10 points through four of seven games. The U.S. fell to second, ahead of defending World champion Russia on a head-to-head tiebreaker after the Americans’ 4-2 win over the Russians on Monday.
The top four teams in the group advance to the quarterfinals next Thursday. The U.S. next plays Denmark (Friday), Slovenia (Sunday) and Slovakia (Tuesday), all on NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra.
The U.S. entered the game with a 5-0 record against Belarus in all-time World Championship competition. Belarus hosted the 2014 World Championship, where it lost in the quarterfinals, as did the U.S. The U.S. beat Belarus 6-1 in group play at the 2014 World Championship.
Before Thursday, Belarus’ record against world hockey powers Canada, the U.S., Russia, Sweden and Finland included one global tournament win since its memorable upset of Sweden in the 2002 Olympic quarterfinals. That was a preliminary game against Finland at the 2009 World Championship.
Belarus failed to qualify for the 2006 and 2014 Winter Olympic tournaments.
Two-time reigning Olympic champion Canada, captained by Sidney Crosby, leads Group A.