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Claimed:Team USA's Steady Climb to the Top


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Team USA's Steady Climb to the Top


Coming off of a winless World Cup two seasons ago, Team USA was ranked as the worst team at the onset of the current tournament. Even within the team, there was little confidence. While improvement over the abysmal performance in S48 was all but guaranteed, the expectation was that they could maybe steal a few games. Without a doubt, they have surpassed these pre-tournament expectations are now in a position to win the nation's first medal since S43.


Heading into the elimination round, the official World Cup Power Rankings had Team USA in the number one slot. Although they finished the round robin in just fourth place, there is certainly a case to be made for them to be atop the list. It was a steady climb for the team from being seen as the worst to one of the strongest. In fact, they never fell in the rankings, which were issued daily, following the games. Four out of five times, USA's position in the power rankings improved.


Day One

Although they lost both games they played, USA looked impressive, out-shooting the tournament favorite Team Europe in both matches. They played well enough to jump over Team Mercenaries into fifth place in the power rankings, although the reject team also had two close losses. No one really stood out for USA on the first day. The team scored just three goals, all by different players, and Apollo Skye's performance in net was less than stellar. Jordan Maverick brought some physicality to the second line, delivering five hits in both of the first two games. He also scored USA's lone goal in their second game.


Day Two

At this point in time, although they performed admirably against Europe, the United States were still considered underdogs against most teams, including Scandinavia. The reigning champs, Scandinavia is not what is used to be, and Team USA exposed this. USA scored five goals on 27 shots, while Scandinavia scored just three in 41 attempts. Skye's performance improved considerably from Day One, and the team displayed a balanced offensive attack with five different players each scoring a goal. The team would follow this up by gettng shutout by Canada, despite a sizeable lead in shots. Team USA moved up one spot in the power rankings on Day Two, taking over the four from the defeated Scandinavia.


Day Three

The third day of play was huge for Team USA. While the win over Scandinavia was great, it didn't prove a whole lot to be able to score five goals against Joanna Åkerfeldt. However their 3-2 win against Canada definitely turned some heads. They followed up that win with a 4-1 thrashing of Team World, putting 52 shots on net while Skye had his best performance yet, saving 27 of 28 shots. Skye played wonderfully in the win over Canada as well. Maverick added two more goals to his total as he and the second line continued to carry the offense. Team USA jumped up to second in the rankings following these wins, moving ahead of the two teams they defeated: Canada and World.


Day Four

Skye continued his hot streak with a 25-save performance in a 5-1 win over Scandinavia. AK47 scored two goals while Maverick and Kai Roberts each had three points. With a chance to cement themselves as one of the top competitors, Team USA lost to the winless Mercenaries. It was a disappointing game, but all hope was not lost. Maverick by this point had established himself as the on-ice leader for Team USA, scoring both of their goals in the 3-2 loss. While they didn't drop in the rankings as a result, they didn't climb either.


Day Five

Team World flipped the script from the previous matchup, beating USA by a score of 3-1, with the stars and stripes' leading lady Diana Maxwell scoring the lone goal, her third of the tournament. Overall the game was disappointing for the team, which speaks to how far they had come in a matter of days. The highlight for the team was it's performance in face-offs, winning 60 of 93 draws. Then game their final game of the group stage, and their second line came to play. AK47 scored two goals, while Roberts led the team with four assists and five points. But the real star was Maverick, who had one of the best games by a skater all tournament. On top of scoring two goals and two assists, giving him 16 to lead the tournament, he added 11 hits. Despite the loss to Team World, USA rose in the power rankings with the previous number one losing both of their games.


Regardless of how things play out from here on, this World Cup has to be viewed as a success for the young Team USA. Maverick has been a standout player all tournament, and Skye showed a great deal of promise for someone who hadn't even been drafted when the games began. They won their quarterfinal match against Scandinavia, and will go on to face Team World in the semifinals. A win will guarantee them a top two finish, while a loss will pit them against the loser of Europe vs Mercenaries in the bronze medal match.

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