The U.S. will clinch a berth in the World Hockey Championship quarterfinals with a win over Slovenia in Ostrava, Czech Republic, on Sunday at 10 a.m. ET, live on NBC Sports Live Extra.
The Americans, with one Olympian on their roster (defenseman Justin Faulk), earned 12 points in their first five games, including wins over defending World champion Russia and Olympic bronze medalist Finland. They most recently beat Denmark 1-0 on Friday.
Russia, Finland and the U.S. all have 12 points through five of seven group games. Belarus is in fourth place with 10 points. The top four nations in each group advance to Thursday’s quarterfinals.
Slovakia is in fifth place with seven points and can finish with no more than 13 points. The U.S. can seize first place in the group by beating Slovenia, which is the only point-less team of 16 across both groups.
WATCH LIVE: U.S.-Slovenia — 10 a.m. ET
The U.S. closes its group schedule against Slovakia on Tuesday (NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra, 10 a.m. ET).
Olympic gold and silver medalists Canada and Sweden are one-two in the opposite group, so the U.S. will hope to finish atop its group and avoid facing either in the quarterfinals.
The U.S.-Slovenia game will be replayed on NBCSN on Sunday at 3 p.m. ET.
Kendall Gretsch, who won Paralympic titles at the last Summer and Winter Games, added another six gold medals at the World Para Nordic Skiing Championships in Sweden last week.
Gretsch, 30, earned seven total medals in seven days between biathlon and cross-country skiing.
Gretsch won gold medals in three different sports across the last three Paralympics: biathlon and cross-country skiing in 2018 (two years after taking up the sports), triathlon in 2021 and biathlon in 2022.
She plans to shift her focus back to triathlon after this winter for 2024 Paris Games qualification.
Gretsch, born with spina bifida, was the 2014 USA Triathlon Female Para Triathlete of the Year. Though triathlon was added to the Paralympics for the 2016 Rio Games, her classification was not added until Tokyo.
Also at last week’s worlds, six-time Paralympian Aaron Pike earned his first Paralympic or world championships gold medal in his decade-plus career, winning a 12.5km biathlon event.
Oksana Masters, who won seven medals in seven events at last year’s Paralympics to break the career U.S. Winter Paralympics medals record, missed worlds due to hand surgery.
The U.S. also picked up five medals at last week’s World Para Alpine Skiing Championships in Spain — three silvers for five-time Paralympian Laurie Stephens and two bronzes for 17-year-old Saylor O’Brien.
Stephens now has 18 career medals from world championships, plus seven at the Paralympics.
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Kyle Smaine, a retired world champion halfpipe skier, died in an avalanche in Japan on Sunday, according to NBC News, citing Smaine’s father. He was 31.
Smaine, a 2015 World champion in ski halfpipe, had been doing ski filming in Japan, sharing videos on his Instagram account over the past week.
The native of South Lake Tahoe, California, finished ninth in ski halfpipe at the 2016 Winter X Games in Aspen, Colorado.
In 2018, Smaine won the fifth and final U.S. Olympic qualifying series event in ski halfpipe but did not make the four-man team for PyeongChang. His last sanctioned international competition was in February 2018.
Late Sunday, two-time Olympic champion David Wise won the X Games men’s ski halfpipe and dedicated it to Smaine.
“We all did this for Kyle tonight,” Wise said on the broadcast. “It’s a little bit of an emotional day for us. We lost a friend.”