Reid Boucher scored the game-winning goal with just 21 seconds remaining regulation, giving the U.S. a 4-3 win against Russia at the IIHF World Under-18 Championship in Crimmitschau, Germany.
The U.S. took a 3-1 lead in the third, but goals by Russia's Nail Yakupov -- a top-rated prospect for the 2012 Entry Draft who plays for the Ontario Hockey League's Sarnia Sting -- and Nikita Kucherov scored to tie the game.
As time ticked down, Rocco Grimaldi won an offensive-zone faceoff, pushing the puck to Boucher, No. 113 on NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of North American skaters for the 2011 Entry Draft -- who fired a wrist shot that beat Russia goalie Andrei Vasilevski under the crossbar to give the U.S. the win.
"Scoring that goal for my team to win, it felt great," Boucher told the IIHF website. "It gives us a lot of confidence going forward and a bit of momentum going into the next game."
The U.S. leads Group A, and can clinch the top spot if Germany loses to Slovakia on Monday, or if the U.S. beats the hosts in Tuesday's preliminary-round finale.
Jonathan Miller, No. 23 on Central Scouting's final list of North American skaters, scored a pair of goals, and John Gibson, Central Scouting's top-rated North American goalie, stopped 36 of 39 shots.
In other action Sunday, Sweden got a pair of goals from William Karlsson in a 5-2 win against Finland; Christoph Bertschey scored a shorthanded goal midway through the third period to give Switzerland a 3-2 win against Slovakia; and Dmitri Jaskin, ranked No. 5 on Central Scouting's final list of European skaters, scored the game-winning power-play goal with 1:48 remaining in regulation to lead the Czech Republic to a 3-2 win against Norway.
Contact Adam Kimelman at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK