CALGARY - Max Friberg had an impressive start to the 2012 world junior men's hockey championship.
Friberg scored four times to lead Sweden to a 9-4 win over Latvia in Pool A play on Monday afternoon.
"It's perfect for me," said Friberg, who has scored just once this season in 28 games for Timra of the Swedish Elite League. "Before, I always had to fight to get a goal. I always had to struggle a little bit before I can get one, but now I was lucky this time."
Swedish coach Roger Ronnberg attributed Friberg's performance to a little bit more than luck.
"He's a coach's dream player," Ronnberg said. "He's always contributes. He always competes. He skates hard. He finishes hits. He (does) all the little things on the ice. It's good to see that he can score some goals too."
Friberg, a fifth round (143rd overall) pick of the Anaheim Ducks in the 2011 NHL entry draft, was pleased to hear that his coach gave him such a glowing assessment.
"You always like to be appreciated by the coach of course," said the five-foot-11, 194-pound forward. "It's good that he thinks I'm doing something right."
Ottawa Senators prospect Mika Zibanejad, who plays for Djurgardens of the SEL, scored a pair of power-play goals for Sweden, which led 3-2 after the first period and 6-3 after the second.
"It's nice to see him shooting the puck," Ronnberg said of Zibanejad. "I think we saw some glimpses of his offensive skills with his skating too. He's also a player that works hard (on) defence and finishes hits."
Zibanejad started the season with the Senators, who selected him sixth overall in the 2011 draft. The six-foot-two, 192-pound forward counted one assist in nine games before the Senators returned him to play with Djurgardens.
Sebastian Collberg had a goal and two assists for the Swedes, while Erik Thorell scored once and set up another.
Joakim Nordstrom also scored for Sweden (1-0), while Johan Gustafsson was forced to stop just nine shots to record the victory. Gustafsson had a bit of a shaky performance as he let in the first two shots he faced.
Roberts Lipsbergs had a pair of goals for Latvia (0-1). Eligible to be chosen in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft next June in Pittsburgh, Lipsbergs scored once in the first period and again in the second.
"It's a pretty good feeling for him as a young guy," said Zemgus Girgensons, another draft-eligible Latvian forward. "He's pretty excited about it.
Girgensons and Toms Andersons also scored for Latvia, while netminder Kristers Gudlevskis stopped 31 of 40 shots he faced.
Swedish captain Johan Larsson left the game with an injury to his thigh in the first period and didn't return.
"He got a small injury in the first," Ronnberg said. "We don't take any chances this early in the tournament."
U.S. 11 Denmark 3
At Edmonton, Charlie Coyle scored a hat trick and Kyle Rau added two goals as the Americans dominated Denmark.
With a 3-2 lead going into the second period, the U.S. (1-0) exploded for six goals to put the game out of reach.
U.S. captain Jason Zucker, with two assists, Stephen Johns, Jarred Tinordi, Nick Bjugstad, Bill Arnold and JT Miller also scored.
"We still have plenty of work to do," said U.S. head coach Dean Blais. "But getting that first win under our belts was important, and there was a lot of good to build on."
Mathias Bau-Hansen scored twice in the first period to keep the Danes close through 20 minutes.
Thomas Spelling had the other goals for Denmark (0-1).
The U.S. will next play Finland on Wednesday.
Russia 3 Switzerland 0
At Calgary, Andrei Vasilevski stopped all 40 shots he faced to lead Russia to a 3-0 win over Switzerland in the late Pool A game.
The undrafted prospect made several spectacular saves to backstop Russia to victory in its opening game of the tournament.
Forwards Nikita Gusev and Mikhail Grigorenko each had a goal and an assist to lead Russia (1-0), while Alexander Khokhlachev also scored.
Tim Wolf made 27 saves in a losing cause for Switzerland (0-1).
Despite being outshot 13-10 in the first period, Russia emerged with a 1-0 lead on a goal by Khokhlachev, who fired a perfect shot to the top corner, blocker side behind Wolf.
After tipping a point shot past Wolf early in the second, Gusev set up Grigorenko for an easy one-timer to give Russia a three-goal lead.