For two games against Team North America, the idea of a Team Europe at this year’s World Cup may not have seemed like it would work well.
With a roster consisting of players from eight different countries, Team Europe couldn’t handle the pace the younger Team North America played at in the pre-tournament opener. The result was a 4-0 loss. The two teams met again three days later and again Team North America lit it up with a 7-4 victory.
But after looking to be in serious trouble through the first two games, Team Europe regrouped Wednesday with a 6-2 victory over Sweden, one of the teams that could potentially go all the way in this tournament.
It helped that 20-year-old center Leon Draisaitl of Germany — coming off a very impressive sophomore campaign with the Oilers — had a hat trick.
His second goal, in particular, was a thing of beauty:
Jaroslav Halak, who appears to be the starter for Team Europe when the tournament officially gets underway, made 34 saves for the win. In such a short tournament, a hot goalie may be able to provide a potential upset, especially in a one-game, winner-moves-on scenario.
Perhaps this victory can give Team Europe a little jolt of confidence heading into the tournament.
They find themselves in Group A, with Team Canada, Team USA and the Czech Republic, who held on to defeat North America earlier in the day.