Providence College goalie Jon Gillies made 38 saves, including a penalty shot in the second period, to lead the United States National Junior Team to a 3-2 victory Sunday during a World Junior Championship exhibition match at Lindab Arena in Angelholm, Sweden.
Gillies, a third-round (No. 75) pick of the Calgary Flames in the 2012 NHL Draft, served as the backup to John Gibson for the gold medal-winning U.S. National Junior Team at the 2013 WJC in Ufa, Russia. He is the likely starter for the U.S. at this year's event in Malmo, Sweden, from Dec. 26 through Jan. 5.
The United States begins defense of its gold medal against the Czech Republic on Thursday at 11:30 a.m. ET (NHLN-US, NHL.com).
"Today is probably the type of game that we have to win, a 3-2 type game, with this team," said U.S. coach Don Lucia. "Jon Gillies did a good job in net. He needs to be our best player night in and night out. The guys that we need to score scored a couple goals tonight. We got pucks down below the goal line and started to grind things out, which is where we'll be at our best."
Daniel O'Regan (Boston University; San Jose Sharks) opened the scoring with a power-play goal 10:21 into the first period. Nicolas Kerdiles (University of Wisconsin; Anaheim Ducks) skated down the left side and fed the puck to Riley Barber (Miami University; Washington Capitals) near the left post. Barber corralled the puck behind the net and centered for O'Regan.
Finland pulled even on a power-play goal by Artturi Lehkonen (Montreal Canadiens) at 7:32. Gillies kept the game tied at 11:19 when he stopped Finland's Juuso Ikonen, a C rated prospect on NHL Central Scouting's December players to watch list for the 2014 NHL Draft, on a penalty shot.
Ryan Hartman (Plymouth Whalers; Chicago Blackhawks) gave the Americans a 2-1 lead 2:23 into the third off assists from Jack Eichel (U.S. U-18 NTDP) and Zach Stepan (Minnesota State University; Nashville Predators). Defenseman Brady Skjei (University of Minnesota; New York Rangers) extended the lead to 3-1 off a blast from the right point at 5:16.
The teams exchanged scoring chances in the final minute, but Gillies, who was named the U.S. player of the game, made several huge blocks to secure the victory. Finland goalie Juuse Saros (Nashville Predators) made 36 saves.