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2022 Worlds Quarterfinal Preview: USA vs Hungary

IIHF

The top seed in Group A - USA - will face the third seed from Group B - Hungary - in what is sure to be a huge test for latter team.

Puck drop is at 10 a.m. eastern and will be on TSN4 and NHL Network in North America.

How they got here

The US pretty much rolled through the preliminary rounds. They outscored their opponents 30 to 3, which included two shutouts in four games. They outshot their opponents 334 to 54. If you haven’t figured it out, they went undefeated winning every game.

The US opened their tournament steamrolling Japan, 10-0. They continued their roll over Finland, winning 6-1. Next up was Switzerland and it was more of the same. They won 9-0. Their sole test came against Canada. In their final preliminary game which was, as is tradition, against their rival from the north, they went down by two in the first period before scoring five unanswered goals and largely dominating Canada.

Hungary, on the other hand, slipped into the quarterfinals on the back of a thrilling win by Germany. They finished the preliminaries with four points - one win and overtime loss (good for a single point).

That sole win came in their first game of the tournament, where Germany scored two goals in the first period before Hungary went on to score four unanswered to win a stunner. Their second game was against Group B power house Czechia, and they fell 7-1. It took until the third period for anyone to score in their game against host Denmark, but the hosts eventually prevailed, 1-0.

Their final preliminary game against Sweden was an absolute barnburner. The teams traded goals in regulation before not scoring in overtime to send the game to shootout, where they ultimately fell.

It was their first game - the win against Germany - that ended up being the difference maker for Hungary. After Germany’s literal last second win in their game against Denmark, the two teams were tied with points. The first tiebreaker is head-to-head, which Hungary held and allowed them to move on.

Player to Watch

Taylor Hesie | USA

It’s honestly kind of hard to believe this is the forward’s first senior National Team tournament with the type of play she’s playing. She currently leads all skaters in the tournament, not just her team but all 10 teams, in points with nine and assists with seven. She has the second highest percent of face offs won with 70.91 percent.

Franciska Kiss-Simon | Hungary

Hungary hasn’t scored a lot of goals this tournament - only 6 across the four games. But defender Kiss-Simon has half of them, aka three. Plus, they have all come at clutch moments for her team. She opened the scoring in their first game against Germany and then tied the game. The defender then scored the game tying goal in their eventual shootout loss to Sweden.

Storylines

It’s honestly not worth beating around the bush here - it would be the upset of the century if Hungary beats the US here.

Besides the obvious skill gap for a million reasons, the US has an incredibly balanced attack this tournament. All by one player has a point, and of those with a point, all but one has more than two points. Even more telling is that the defense is accounting for just over 30 percent of the team’s points (27 of the 84 total points). They’ve scored seven of the 30 goals too. Playing time is largely an evenly spread, a marked difference from the last couple of tournaments and possibly a sign of the new times for the teams.

Hopefully the trend will continue, and the coaching staff will use this as an opportunity to get some of the younger players even more experience (cough play Aerin Frankel and give Jincy Dunne more minutes cough)

For Hungary, well, I’d say if they get double digit shots on net (the US held Japan to 6 and Switzerland to 4), that’s a solid game. This is an incredible opportunity for them to see how they stack up and what they need to work on for next year, when they’ll be back for the tournament in Canada.