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Three stars from Day 1 at World Junior A Challenge

by Mike G. Morreale

The opening day of the 2012 World Junior A Challenge in Yarmouth, N.S., on Monday saw the United States and Russia score victories in their respective contests.

The U.S. recorded a 9-1 triumph over Canada East, which garnered silver in last year's tournament, while Russia scored six unanswered goals en route to a 6-1 victory over the Czech Republic. NHL Central Scouting's Chris Edwards is in Nova Scotia, carefully viewing those draft eligible players on the radar and competing for their countries.

Edwards took the time to provide with his three stars from Day 1.

First Star: Ryan Fitzgerald, Team USA - Fitzgerald, the son of Pittsburgh Penguins assistant general manager, Tom Fitzgerald, scored three goals in a four-goal first period for the United States. He was regarded as a B-rated skater on Central Scouting's preliminary players to watch list.

Fitzgerald, who is committed to Boston College in the fall of 2013, is playing for the Valley Warriors of the Eastern Junior Hockey League this season.

"Every time he was on the ice, he made something happen," Edwards said. "He showed high end puck handling and playmaking ability."

          Luke Johnson, Team USA

Second Star: Luke Johnson, Team USA - The center for the Lincoln Stars in the United States Hockey League is rated an A skater on Central Scouting's preliminary list. He had two assists in the U.S. victory over Canada East.

"He was around the puck all game and creating offense every shift," Edwards said. "He is a smart and creative playmaker who handles and distributes the puck very well."

Third Star: Artyom Prokhorov, Russia - The 5-foot-8, 145-pound right wing connected for a pair of goals in the victory over the Czech Republic.

"After a slow first period, Artyom and his line took charge and dominated the second and third periods," Edwards said. "He got involved on the forecheck and won several puck battles. He showed no fear of physical play and handled the puck well in traffic."

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale

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