— USA Hockey (@usahockey) February 10, 2022
Sean Farrell’s Olympic experience is off to an incredible start. The Hopkinton native recorded a hat trick and added two assists to lead Team USA to a tournament-opening 8-0 rout of host China at the National Indoor Stadium in Beijing on Thursday.
It was the first hat trick by an American player in the Olympics since Phil Kessel in 2014.
“It’s awesome to get our first game under our belts,” Farrell, a Harvard freshman, said in an interview with NBC Sports after the game. “We’ve been working really hard in practice and coming together as a group off the ice, but we don’t really know what we’ve got until we step on the ice for the first game. That was a great start for us. We obviously have a lot to work on still, but it’s a good building block, and we’ll keep going from here.”
Early in the second period, with the Americans up 1-0, Farrell got the puck behind the Chinese net and fired a quick behind-the-back pass that found its way between a defender’s legs and onto the stick of teammate Noah Cates in front. Cates slapped it into the net 5:32 into the period.
“We were kind of cycling it down in the corner,” Farrell explained. “Most times we’ll have a guy in front. For me, I was kind of throwing it there. I knew somebody would be going to the net, and it ended up right on [Cates’] stick and he buried it. So it worked out really well.”
Decent pass 👀 pic.twitter.com/Ma8MENAyJs
— Spittin' Chiclets (@spittinchiclets) February 10, 2022
With 1:53 remaining in the same period, Farrell forced a turnover at center ice, then filled the left side on 3-on-2 break. He took a pass from Harvard teammate Nicholas Abruzzese just over the blue line, looked over his options and decided to shoot himself, firing a wrist shot to the short side that deflected off the stick of the goalie and into the top corner of the goal.
Just 1:06 into the third period, Farrell was at it again. This time he was set up in the left face-off circle when he took a pass from former Boston Bruin Steven Kampfer, who had skated behind the net, drawing the goalie out of position. Farrell quickly wristed a shot into the open net.
Midway through the third period, Farrell fought for control of a loose puck off an offensive-zone face-off. He tipped it to Ben Meyers, who skated in alone and lifted a backhander into the net to make it 6-0.
Farrell capped off his hat trick with 1:33 left in the game. Spotting up in the slot, he took a pass from former Detroit Red Wing Justin Abdelkader and fired the puck into the top right corner.
“It went really well,” Farrell said of the team’s debut. “Our line played really well tonight. I’m really fortunate to play with those two guys, Meyers and [Cates]. I think we’ve been clicking ever since practice started. It was good to start out on the right foot.”
Team USA undoubtedly will have a tougher test in its second preliminary-round game, a matchup against Canada on Saturday (Friday 11:10 p.m. Eastern time). The Americans’ third game is against Germany on Sunday (8:10 a.m. ET).
Farrell, a 20-year-old Harvard freshman, grew up in Hopkinton before heading to the Midwest as a teenager to play for the U.S. National Development Program and then junior hockey. The 5-foot-9 forward was a fourth-round pick of the Montreal Canadiens in the 2020 NHL draft.