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U.S. tops Latvia to open World tourney

by Staff Writer / New Jersey Devils

HALIFAX, Nova Scotia – On a United States team full of youth, its youngest player led the team to victory Friday night.

Chicago Blackhawks 19-year-old sniper Patrick Kane had a goal and two assists as the U.S. blanked Latvia 4-0 in Day 1 action at the IIHF World World Hockey Championship.

The Americans, who finished fifth at last year's event, sport a roster with just three skaters over 25, and an average age of 24.6.

Kane, the leading candidate for the National Hockey League's rookie-of-the-year award after recording 72 points in 82 games this season, assisted on a first-period marker by Dustin Brown, then added a goal midway through the second on a nice individual effort.

Kane took the puck near Latvia's blue-line, skated in and fired a snap-shot top corner on goaltender Edgars Masalskis.

Kane also fired a shot that resulted in Brown's goal 7:21 into the first. His shot was stopped, but Brown put in the rebound near the Latvian crease.

Kane's third point came seven minutes into the third. He skated in the slot, and found Zach Parise at the side of goal, who took two whacks before scoring.

Patrick O'Sullivan rounded out the scoring for the Americans, who scored all of their goals with the man-advantage. New Jersey Devils blueliner Paul Martin added three assists.

Boston Bruins netminder Tim Thomas delivered a solid performance, stopping 24 shots. Latvia had several good opportunities to score, but Thomas came up with a number of highlight-reel stops. His best came late in the third, when after stopping the first Latvian shot, he spun around backwards, and with the paddle of his stick kept the rebound attempt out.

American forward Lee Stempniak was awarded a penalty shot after being hauled down on a breakaway shortly after Kane's goal in the second. Stempniak couldn't beat Masalskis, who closed his pads to stop a shot five-hole. Masalskis was Latvia's best player, finishing with 45 saves.

The Americans have Saturday off before returning to action Sunday night against Slovenia, which lost 5-1 to Canada earlier Friday.

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