Feb. 17, 2014
SOCHI, Russia -- Former Gopher Phil Kessel tallied a natural hat trick on Sunday in the U.S. Olympic Men's Ice Hockey Team's 5-1 victory over Slovenia in the preliminary round finale for Team USA.
The win clinches first place in Group A for Team USA (2-1-0-0, W-OTW-OTL-L) and a berth into the quarterfinals. Kessel’s hat trick was the first by a U.S. Olympian since John LeClair achieved the feat in 2002.
“It’s not about me, it’s about the win,” Kessel said. “We can still improve more, and we have to get a lot better.”
In three games so far in Sochi, Kessel leads all skaters with seven points (four goals, three assists). Kessel's sister, Amanda, leads all women's skaters at the Olympics with six points (three goals, three assists) with the U.S. women set for the gold-medal game once again.
Phil Kessel began the scoring with goals at 1:04 and 4:33 of the opening period. First, Kessel deked around a defenseman, outside to inside, to earn a clear path to the net and beat goaltender Luca Gracnar low. Then, Kessel scored his second goal of the game, whacking the puck out of mid-air into the goal from right in front. Kessel completed his natural hat trick by tapping in the rebound at 11:05 of the second stanza.
Former Gopher captain Blake Wheeler would add an assist on the U.S. team's fourth goal of the day.
The U.S. returns to action Wednesday (Feb. 19) in the quarterfinal round. Team USA’s opponent and game time will be decided Tuesday (Feb. 18) at the conclusion of the qualification round.
Pitlick, Kloos Earn Weekly Accolades
Gopher Hockey rookie Rem Pitlick was honored as both the NCAA First Star of the Week and the Big Ten First Star of the Week on Tuesday while senior captain Justin Kloos picked up Big Ten ...
Overtime Goal Gives Gophers Sweep
Rem Pitlick gave the No. 5 Gopher Hockey program its first lead of the night with an overtime winner as Minnesota picked up a 4-3 win over No. 8/9 Penn State to complete a Big Ten sweep...
Pitlick's Hat Trick Leads Gophers to Win
The rookie tallied three goals and an assist as the Gophers topped Penn State 6-3 on the road.