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World Junior Championship: USA-Slovakia Preview

Alex Tuch tries to slide one past German netminder Ilja Sharipov.
Alex Tuch tries to slide one past German netminder Ilja Sharipov.
Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images

The U.S. Junior National Team looks to pick up three more points in Monday's 4 p.m. game against Slovakia, the team's last game prior to the showdown against Team Canada on New Year's Eve. USA Hockey routed Germany, 6-0, in Sunday's game.

The American forward lines have been shuffled prior to Monday's game. Tyler Motte has been moved up to the left wing on Jack Eichel's top line with Alex Tuch still manning the right wing. Miles Wood is flanking the left side of center Auston Matthews on the U.S. second line. Sonny Milano is now the third line left wing while Anthony Louis occupies the same spot on the fourth line.

It's a big opportunity for Motte and Wood to show they can produce with more ice time and playing with more skilled players. Wood has impressed USA Hockey's brass with his ability to go into the dirty areas throughout the pre-camp and the first two preliminary round games.

Eichel, in an individual battle with Connor McDavid here at the World Juniors, had a highlight reel assist in the first game against Finland. On Sunday he scored a pretty wraparound goal that showcased his amazing reach.

University of Michigan forward Dylan Larkin had two goals and an assist in Team USA's game against Germany and was named the Player of the Game. Minnesota forward Hudson Fasching and Boston College forward are the only other two players with more than a point in the tournament for Team USA, in addition to Eichel and Larkin.

Boston College sophomore goaltender and Vancouver Canucks prospect Thatcher Demko will be back in goal for the United States. He got the night off against the Germans with Brandon Halverson recording the 13-save shutout.

The Slovaks are a dangerous team, despite not showing it in their World Junior opener against Team Canada. After losing 8-0 to Canada, Slovakia bounced back with 2-1 victory over defending Gold Medalist Finland. Martin Reway, a fourth round selection of the Montreal Canadiens in the 2013 NHL Draft, had two assists in the win over the Fins. Boston Bruins third round pick Peter Cehlarik and undrafted defenseman Matus Holenda had the goals.

The United States sits in second place in Group A with five points, one in back of Canada. The Americans picked up two points for their shootout win over Finland in the World Junior Championship opener. The IIHF awards three points for a regulation win and two for an overtime or shootout win.

Monday's game from the Bell Centre in Montreal can be seen in the United States on the NHL Network at 4 p.m. ET. Fans without access to the NHL Network can stream the game live on


Jeff Cox covers college, junior and high school hockey, NCAA recruiting and NHL Draft prospects. Follow him on Twitter @JeffCoxSports.