A stunning coast-to-coast individual goal from Samuel Bucek gave Slovakia a massive 3-2 win over the United States in the preliminary round of the World Junior Championships tonight. With just 2:08 remaining in the game, it served as the perfect rebuttal to a Casey Mittelstadt equalizer a minute prior, and triggered celebrations that will match those of the eventual champions.
Here’s the earlier Mittelstadt goal as well, because his amazing stickhandling deserves to be more than just a footnote.
For some context, Slovakia lost to Canada just last night by a score of 6-0, while the U.S. beat Denmark (who is admittedly worse than Slovakia) 9-0 on Dec. 26. The loss is by no means a disaster for the U.S., because all but two of the tournament’s 10 teams advance to the next round. But it’s still a thrilling moment for the victors, and a blow to the pride of the Americans. The U.S. have to bounce back quickly, however, as in less than 24 hours they’ll play an outdoor game against the Canadians, their third of four opening round games.