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KINGS PROSPECT JOHNSON TALLIES GOAL IN FINAL EXHIBITION GAME FOR U.S.

by Staff Writer / Los Angeles Kings
NORRTALJE, Sweden -- The U.S. National Junior Team scored three second-period goals en route to a 5-3 exhibition victory over Switzerland today at Contigahallen Arena. Team USA received a goal and two assists from Nate Gerbe (Oxford, Mich./Boston College) and a goal and an assist apiece from Patrick Kane (Buffalo, N.Y./London), Peter Mueller (Bloomington, Minn./Everett) and Kyle Okposo (St. Paul, Minn./University of Minnesota).


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Having won both its exhibition games leading up to the International Ice Hockey Federation World Junior Championship, the United States will now prepare for its tournament opener against Germany on Tuesday (Dec. 26) at 9 a.m. EST at Leksand's Ejendals Arena.

"We're most appreciative to the Swedish Federation and the city of Norrtalje for doing a wonderful job in hosting the exhibition games," said U.S. Head Coach Ron Rolston (Fenton, Mich.). "We've had the opportunity to learn alot about our team, and now we're looking forward to a few days of preparation before our opening game of the World Junior Tournament against Germany."

Gerbe scored the lone goal of the first period when he corralled the rebound of an Erik Johnson (Bloomington, Minn./University of Minnesota) shot that missed the goal and slid it into the short side of the net.

Kane gave the U.S. a 2-0 lead at 3:34 of the second period after taking a pass from Mueller during a 2-on-1 rush and sending a backhand through Switzerland netminder Reto Berra's five-hole.

With Team USA shorthanded, Okposo stretched the U.S. lead to three goals on a tally at 8:37 that bounced off a Swiss defender and into the goal.

The two teams combined for three goals within a span of 74 seconds in the middle of the second frame. Only 39 seconds after Switzerland had cut the U.S. lead to 3-1, Kane, stationed behind the net, fed a pass to Mueller in the slot for a one-timer at 11:02. Switzerland, however, came right back at 11:37 to make it a 4-2 game heading into the final stanza.

After Switzerland's Marco Maurer made it a 4-3 game at 8:17 of the third period, Jack Johnson (Ann Arbor, Mich./University of Michigan) iced the game for Team USA with a power-play tally on a shot from the point that beat a screened Berra high to the glove side at 18:07.

Jeff Frazee (Burnsville, Minn./University of Minnesota) stopped 33 of 36 shots to earn the victory for Team USA.

NOTES: Team USA and Germany will meet Tuesday (Dec. 26) for the first time in the World Junior Championship since Dec. 31, 1996, when the U.S. earned an 8-0 victory in the preliminary round. All-time, the U.S. is 15-3-0 against Germany in the World Junior Championship ... NHL Center Ice will televise most U.S. games in the World Junior Championship (see schedule below). Additionally, all USA games will be audiocast on usahockey.com with Jim Rich and Jeff Sauer calling the action … The 2007 IIHF World Junior Championship will feature athletes under the age of 20 on international teams including the United States, Belarus, Canada, Germany, Czech Republic, Finland, Russia, Slovakia, Sweden and Switzerland … The U.S. National Junior Team is coming off a fourth-place finish at the 2006 World Junior Championship in Vancouver, British Columbia … Eight members of the U.S. National Junior Team are returning from last year's team, including Taylor Chorney (Hastings, Minn./University of North Dakota), Frazee, Gerbe, Erik Johnson, Jack Johnson, Brian Lee (Moorhead, Minn./University of North Dakota), Mueller and Jack Skille (Madison, Wis./University of Wisconsin).


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