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U.S. cruises at WJC

NHL.com @NHL
LIBEREC, Czech Republic – The U.S. National Junior Team, with goals from five different players, earned a 5 -1 victory over Kazakhstan today in the opening game for both teams of the preliminary round of the 2008 International Ice Hockey Federation World Junior Championship.

"I thought we got stronger as the game wore on," said U.S. Head Coach John Hynes. "It's always important to get the tournament started on the right foot and we accomplished that today."

It was a 1-1 standoff after the opening period. Kazakhstan got on the board first at 14:46 when Alexandr Kurshuk tipped Yevgeniy Bolyakin's shot from the right circle past Jeremy Smith with Team USA down a man. The United States evened the game at 19:57 when James vanRiemsdyk (Middletown, N.J./University of New Hampshire) tipped the puck past Mikhail Smolnikov at the side of the net. Bill Sweatt (Elburn, Ill./Colorado College) drew the lone assist on the play.

Team USA dominated the second period. Rhett Rakhshani (Huntington Beach, Calif./University of Denver) put the U.S. ahead for good at 4:58 when he buried the rebound of a Kyle Okposo (St. Paul, Minn.) shot from the bottom of the left circle. Tyler Ruegsegger (Lakewood, Colo./University of Denver) also recorded an assist on the play. Mike Carman (Apple Valley, Minn./University of Minnesota) was the recipient of a nice feed from behind the net off the stick of Sweatt at 8:29, a marker that gave Team USA a two-goal advantage after 40 minutes. While U.S. netminder Jeremy Smith (Brownstown, Mich./Plymouth) had to make only three saves in the period, he made a critical one on Yevgeni Gasnikov from point blank range with just :01 left in the period.

Colin Wilson (Greenwich, Conn./Boston University) re-directed Cade Fairchild's (Duluth, Minn./University of Minnesota) power-play shot from the center point at 4:11 of the third period to make it 4-1 for Team USA, with vanRiemsdyk also getting an assist on the play. Okposo closed out the scoring at 17:43 when his shot from the side of the right circle deflected off the top of the glove of Smolnikov and into the net. Ruegsegger began the play by winning the faceoff.

Smith picked up the victory in goal with 17 saves, while Smolnikov made 44 saves in a losing effort.

Team USA will next face Switzerland on Friday (Dec. 28) at 12 noon ET.

NOTES: James vanRiemsdyk, who recorded a goal and an assist, was named Team USA's Player of the Game ... Team USA will practice tomorrow at 12 noon (6 a.m. EST) ... All Team USA games in the 2008 IIHF World Junior Championship are audiocast live on usahockey.com with Jack Swanson and Jeff Sauer calling the action. In addition, all games of the medal round will be televised live by the NHL Network in the United States ... Brian Strait (Waltham, Mass./Boston University) is Team USA's captain, while Chris Summers (Milan, Mich./University of Michigan), Blake Geoffrion (Brentwood, Tenn./University of Wisconsin) and Tyler Ruegsegger (Lakewood, Colo./University of Denver) are alternate captains ... vanRiemsdyk (1-1--2), Kyle Okposo (1-1--2), Ruegsegger (0-2--2) and Bill Sweatt (0-2--2) each recorded multiple-point games.

GAME SUMMARY
Scoring By Period

USA    1 -    2 -    2 --    5
KAZ     1 -    0 -    0 --    1


First Period - Scoring: 1, KAZ Kurshuk (Bolyakin, Vitoshkin), 14:46, pp; 2, USA vanRiemsdyk (Sweatt), 19:57. Penalties: USA, Pacioretty (boarding), 1:34; KAZ, Ivanov (hooking), 10:21; KAZ, Bolyakin (holding), 11:12; USA, Flynn (tripping), 14:12; KAZ, Kachulin (tripping), 16:29.

Second Period - Scoring: 3, USA Rakhshani (Okposo, Ruegsegger), 4:58; 4, USA Carman (Sweatt), 8:29. Penalties: KAZ, Savchenko (hooking), :26; USA, Wilson (hooking), 2:18; KAZ, Kachulin (tripping), 10:03; KAZ, Bolyakin (hooking), 12:13.

Third Period - 5, USA Wilson (Fairchild, vanRiemsdyk), 4:11, pp; 6, USA Okposo (Ruegsegger), 17:43. Penalties: KAZ, Savchenko (cross-checking), 4:00; USA, Pacioretty (interference), 9:05; USA, Geoffrion (cross-checking), 14:34; KAZ, Gerassimov (high-sticking), 19:54.

Shots by Period        1     2     3    Total
USA                             15  16   18    49
KAZ                              5    3     10    18
                          
Goaltenders (SH/SV)         1            2            3            Total
USA, Smith, 60:00               5-4       3-3         10-10    18-17
KAZ, Smolnikov, 60:00       15-14   16-14    18-16    49-44
 
 

Power Play: USA 1-8; KAZ 1-5
Penalties: USA 5-10; KAZ 8-16
Officials: Referees - Francis Charron (Canada), Marc Muylaert (Canada); Linesmen - Jaromir Blaha (Czech Republic), Petr Blumel (Czech Republic)
Attendance: 1,029

Team USA 2008 IIHF World Junior Championship Schedule

Dec. 26-Jan. 5 • Liberec & Pardubice, Czech Republic

Date         Opponent                                               Venue                          Time (Local/EST)
Dec. 18    Western Michigan University (Ex.)    Lawson Ice Arena       W, 4-2
Dec. 22    Czech Republic (Ex.)                          Ceska Trebova             L, 2-5
Dec. 26    Kazakhstan                                           Tipsport Arena             W, 5-1
Dec. 28    Switzerland                                           Tipsport Arena             6:00 p.m./12:00 p.m.
Dec. 29    Russia                                                   Tipsport Arena             8:00 p.m./2:00 p.m.
Dec. 31    Finland                                                   Tipsport Arena            6:00 p.m./12:00 p.m.
Jan. 2       Quarterfinals                                         CEZ Arena                   TBD
Jan. 4       Semifinals                                             CEZ Arena                   TBD
Jan. 5       Gold/Bronze
                  Medal Games                                       CEZ Arena                   TBD

Venue Locations:
Lawson Ice Arena (Kalamazoo, Mich.), Ceska Trebova (Ceska Trebova, Czech Republic), Tipsport Arena (Liberec, Czech Republic), CEZ Arena (Pardubice, Czech Republic).


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