Sports Kessel's hat trick lifts U.S. men to hockey quarters Phil Kessel took a minute to open the scoring and went on to record a natural hat-trick as the United States beat Slovenia. Photo Credit: Getty Images / Martin Rose By REUTERS email@example.com February 16, 2014 3:01 PM Print Share fbShare Tweet Email Phil Kessel took a minute to open the scoring and went on to record a natural hat-trick as the United States beat Slovenia, 5-1, on Sunday to secure a bye into the quarterfinals of the men's ice hockey tournament at the Sochi Games. Kessel opened the scoring 63 seconds into the game when he sped into the Slovenian zone and used a nifty deke to beat the defenseman before sliding it home. He added another a little over three minutes later when he swatted a Joe Pavelski pass from behind the goal line out of midair and into the Slovenian net. Kessel scored a third consecutive goal to complete a natural hat trick when he pounced on a rebound near the Slovenian crease just past the game's midway point. "I'm playing with some great players who help you along," Kessel told reporters. "But it's not about me it's about the win. We can still improve more and we have to get a lot better." Ryan McDonagh and David Backes also scored for the United States to squash any hopes of a comeback by a Slovenian team making their first appearance in an Olympic men's competition. The win concluded the three-game preliminary round for the undefeated United States, who advance to the quarterfinals by virtue of winning Group A. Slovenia, who spoiled U.S. netminder Ryan Miller's shutout bid when Marcel Rodman scored with 18 seconds left, will play a qualification game on Tuesday against an as-yet undetermined opponents with a berth in the quarterfinals on the line. Slovenia were also playing without key forward Sabahudin Kovacevic, who was banned from his team's final preliminary game for elbowing an opponent in the head. The quick start to Sunday's game for the United States was a clear sign that the team was not suffering any hangover from Saturday's emotional win over Russia. By REUTERS firstname.lastname@example.org Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Comments We're revamping our Comments section. Learn more and share your input.