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Eichel and Tuch power U.S. rout of Sweden

by Adam Kimelman /

LAKE PLACID, N.Y. -- It's summer hockey, but Jack Eichel and Alex Tuch already look like they're in midseason form.

Linemates last season with the United States National Team Development Program Under-18 team, Eichel had the primary assist on two of Tuch's three goals in a 7-1 defeat of Sweden on Wednesday.

Eichel, a likely top-two pick at the 2015 NHL Draft, finished with three assists; the other came on Michael Downing's first-period goal.

"It's great playing with him," Eichel said of Tuch, a Minnesota Wild prospect. "He's so good everywhere on the ice. He makes the game really easy on me. I think I like to pass him the puck, he's a great shooter and he finds the back of the net pretty often. It was really nice playing with him all season and it's even better playing with him here. ... We played together all year last year. I love playing with the guy. He's such a great player."

Defenseman Ryan Collins (Columbus Blue Jackets) had two goals and Will Butcher (Colorado Avalanche), J.T. Compher (Buffalo Sabres) and Nick Schmaltz (Chicago Blackhawks) each had two assists to help the United States win for the first time since trimming 15 players from its original camp roster on Monday.

"There was a lot of weight lifted off a lot of guys' shoulders [after the cuts]," Tuch said. "They were able to play their game and get after it."

Also starring Wednesday was goaltender Thatcher Demko (Vancouver Canucks), who stopped 20 of 21 shots in what was easily his best outing of the weeklong camp. He had allowed eight goals on 27 shots while playing parts of three games earlier in the week. It was no surprise that the first time he got to play a full game he had his best performance.

"I thought that he made some subtly really big saves and that's something that really bodes well for his teammates," U.S. national junior team coach Mark Osiecki said. "What he showed [Wednesday] is something that can really help our squad."

Downing's power-play goal on a slap shot from the point opened the scoring 13:19 into the game, and the U.S. turned it into a rout by scoring four times in the second period.

Tuch's power-play goal 52 seconds in got things rolling before Collins and Tuch scored 1:15 apart midway through the period. John Hayden (Chicago Blackhawks) made it 5-0 when he scored off a Schmaltz rebound at 13:33.

Axel Blomqvist (Winnipeg Jets) had Sweden's lone goal 12 seconds into the third when he scored off a loose puck in front. But Tuch answered when his shot off the rush went in and out of the glove of goalie Jonas Johansson (Sabres) and trickled across the goal line at 3:01.

That ended Johansson's game after allowing six goals on 23 shots. He was replaced by Fredrik Bergvik (San Jose Sharks).

Collins' second goal, at 5:02 of the third, closed the scoring.

The two goals were one more than the defenseman scored in 59 games with the USNTDP U-18 team last season, and one fewer than he scored in two seasons with the program.

"Puck just bounces your way sometimes," Collins said. "First one was a nice dish from Schmaltz in the slot and I ripped it and it went in. Second one was lucky, just trying to get it to net and it hit off a Swedish defender and went in."

Collins said he heard a bit of chirping from some teammates for his rare offensive outburst, but Sonny Milano (Columbus Blue Jackets), who tied for third on the U-18 team last season with 29 goals, kept his mouth shut.

"I can't chirp the guy," Milano said. "He got two goals, I got none. He'll be chirping me."

The United States next plays Thursday against Finland. Sweden's next game is against Finland on Friday.


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