NCAA Player of the Year Jack Eichel scored with 28 seconds left in overtime to lift the U.S. over Slovakia 5-4 to top its group at the World Hockey Championship in Ostrava, Czech Republic, on Tuesday.
Eichel, 18 and in his first senior World Championship, and the U.S. advanced to play Switzerland in the quarterfinals Thursday. The youngest U.S. team member’s goal guaranteed the U.S. will not face the other group winner, two-time reigning Olympic champion Canada, until a potential gold-medal game or bronze-medal game.
NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra will have coverage of quarterfinal games (schedule here). The U.S.-Switzerland winner will face the winner of Sweden-Russia/Finland in the semifinals Saturday.
Switzerland, fourth in its group, is without stalwart Calgary Flames goalie Jonas Hiller at Worlds. Switzerland was in the last four Olympic hockey tournaments, never advancing past the quarterfinals. The U.S. beat Switzerland 3-2 in group play at last year’s World Championship.
On Tuesday, the U.S. also tallied goals from Ben Smith, Seth Jones, Anders Lee and Charlie Coyle, though it squandered a 3-0 lead.
The U.S. has won three Worlds medals (all bronze) since 1962 and reached the quarterfinals for a fifth straight year. It went 6-1 in group play with one Olympian on its roster — defenseman Justin Faulk.