It took roughly 30 minutes for the USA men’s hockey team to fully congeal having only had a handful of practices together while never seeing game action, but they showed just how much noise they can make at the 2022 Winter Olympics in the second half of an 8-0 rout of China on Wednesday.
The Americans scored six goals in the final 31:13 spanning between the second and third periods, providing an inkling that they can still be a force to be reckoned with at the Beijing Games despite the NHL not allowing its talent to compete in the Olympics for a second-straight cycle.
Sean Farrell had the biggest day of all, recording a hat trick in a five-point outing to lead the Americans. The 20-year-old freshman currently attending Harvard was a fourth-round pick of the Montreal Canadiens in the 2020 draft — and he also recorded just the 10th hat trick in Team USA history dating back to 1956. It was the United States’ first hat trick in Olympic play since current Arizona Coyotes winger Phil Kessel did so at the 2014 Games.
Farrell first got on the score sheet with a spinning, no-look assist from behind the net to Noah Cates, who buried the chance from right in front of China’s goal five minutes into the second period. It gave the US some breathing room after a surprisingly tense first period that saw them escape with a 1-0 lead despite playing a China team that is a developing hockey country and playing in its first-ever game at the Olympics.
JUST ENJOY THIS PASS, WHAT A BEAUTY! 🚨
— Olympic Hockey on NBC (@NBCSportsHockey) February 10, 2022
“We were cycling down in the corner and most of the time, we’d have a guy in front,” Farrell said of his assist. “I just kind of threw it there and it went right to Cates’ stick and he buried it so it worked out really well.”
After Brian O’Neill made it 3-0 at the 11:13 mark of the second, Farrell picked up his first goal of the game with 1:53 to go in the second when he sniped a wrist shot from the left circle into the top-left corner of the net.
— USA Hockey (@usahockey) February 10, 2022
Just 1:06 into the third period, he got his second when he caught Jeremy Smith out of position to finish in a wide-open net.
Ben Meyers, from Farrell, and Seattle Kraken second-overall pick at the 2021 draft, Matty Beniers, kept the US rolling in the third period to officially make it a rout. Farrell then put the proverbial bow on the American’s win with his third goal of the game, a one-time snipe from between the dots after a blazing display of power-play passing with 1:33 left in regulation.
“It’s awesome to get our first game under our belt,” Farrell said. “We’ve been working really hard in practice… but we don’t really know what we got until we step on the ice for our first game… That was a great start for us.
We still have a lot to work on but this is a good building block and we’ll keep going from here.”
The tests get much more difficult for the Americans in preliminary play, though, as they face high-powered Canada on Friday night.