John Gibson, NHL Central Scouting's top-rated North American goaltender for the 2011 Entry Draft, stopped 30 of 31 shots as the U.S. beat Switzerland 2-1 Thursday in its opening game at the IIHF World Under-18 Championship, in Crimmitschau, Germany.
Reid Boucher, No. 113 on Central Scouting final ranking of the top North American skaters, scored the deciding goal at 5:09 of the third period. Boucher one-timed a pass from Jonathan Miller behind Switzerland goalie Luca Bolthauser.
Ryan Haggerty also had a goal for the U.S., which is the two-time defending champion at this tournament.
"Tonight we found a way to win a very difficult game," U.S. coach Ron Rolston told USA Hockey's website. "Every game we play will be a battle, so getting three points tonight was a good start."
The U.S. next plays Friday against Slovakia, which lost 8-2 to Russia on Thursday. Nikita Kucherov, No. 17 on Central Scouting's final ranking of European skaters, had 2 goals and 2 assists for Russia.
In other games, Finland got a pair of assists from power forward Joel Armia, No. 4 on Central Scouting's final ranking of European skaters, in its 5-2 win against Norway. Samu Perhonen, Central Scouting's top-rated European goaltender, stopped 11 of 13 shots.
Dmitri Jaskin, Central Scouting's fifth-ranked European skater, scored the game-winning power-play goal in the third period to lead the Czech Republic to a 2-1 victory against Sweden. Matej Machovsky, who plays goal for the Ontario Hockey League's Brampton Battalion and is No. 11 on Central Scouting's final ranking of North American goalies, stopped 44 of 45 shots.
Contact Adam Kimelman at firstname.lastname@example.org.