Melissa Samoskevich didn’t describe her goals.
The individual effort didn’t matter to the native of Sandy Hook, Conn. Sure she had three goals and the hat trick was nice. But the team scored seven. And the team is what matters most.
Humility aside, she did earn player of the game honors, pacing the United States to an offensive break out win over Russia, 7-1, in front of 1,061 at HarborCenter in Buffalo, N.Y., Thursday night.
“All three goals, it doesn’t really matter,” she said. “We had seven as a team. My three goals contributed but at the end of the game it was the seven goals that counted.”
It was the boost the Americans needed to win Group A and earn a bye into Sunday’s semifinals along with Canada, who defeated the Czech Republic, also by a 7-1 margin.
Samoskevich gave the U.S. a 2-0 lead in the first period. Russia came out with a strong first shift in the second, notching a goal 33 seconds into the period.
But the American offense finally broke through. Smooth and strong, the offense not only generated chances but finished opportunities.
“I think what we’re doing is thinking less and playing more,” U.S. coach Joel Johnson said. “That’s the hard part of a two-week tournament is to try and cover all the things you want to teach and yet not over teach because at some point they just have to play.
“I think this was our best game as far as that’s concerned. They were still playing within our structure and our systems but they were playing free and fast and that’s what we want.”
It was an impressive game from Samoskevich who notched her third goal in the third period. A defenseman by trade who is committed to Quinnipiac, she moved to forward for this tournament. Team first after all. And Thursday it started clicking.
“She’s versatile and … when she gets good chances, she can score,” Johnson said. “The first couple of games she was missing the net a little bit. Of course when do that, you’re not going to bury your chances. I think she’s had a great tournament.”
The U.S. will play at 7 p.m. Sunday facing the winner of Friday’s quarterfinal between Czech Republic and Sweden.