The United States finished top of Group A in the Olympic men’s hockey preliminary round, earning a bye to the quarterfinals with a 3-2 win over Germany.
The victory gave the United States a perfect 3-0 record in the round robin thanks to victories over China, Canada and the Germans. They’ll skip the qualifying round and automatically earn a quarter-final berth, giving them some rest until the round of eight begins on Wednesday.
The match did not start in favor of the United States, however. While on the power play, Patrick Hager scored on the power play after heading Mathias Plachta’s thread past Drew Commesso at 2:00 of the game.
But from there, the Americans took over. Steven Kampfer’s power-play goal at 4:26 passed traffic and Danny aus den Birken’s blocker to tie the game. Just over 20 minutes later, the Americans scored an important second goal to take the lead.
A rare piece of history took place in the third. Nathan Smith became the first Florida-born player to score for the United States in Olympic competition, beating aus den Birken five holes after the Germans failed past the crease. Tom Kuhnhackl made the end of the game a bit more interesting with a late goal, but a push into an empty net would have gone nowhere and the United States would hold for the 3-2 win.