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U.S. rides fast start to 6-3 win over Sweden

by Adam Kimelman
LAKE PLACID, N.Y. -- Charlie Coyle and Beau Bennett haven't played against the same high-caliber opposition as some of their U.S. teammates. In their first big-time international match, however, both came through with flying colors.

Coyle had a goal, dominated in the faceoff circle and showed his great skating ability, and Bennett had a pair of assists as the U.S. jumped to a 4-0 lead in the game's first four minutes and held on for a 6-3 victory against Sweden in an exhibition game during USA Hockey's National Junior Evaluation Camp.

Justin Faulk scored twice, and Jason Zucker, Derek Forbort and Brock Nelson also had goals. Jack Campbell stopped 24 of 27 shots in goal.

Anton Lander, Patrick Cehlin and Jacob Josefson scored for Sweden. Fredrik Petterson-Wentzel, who relieved starter Robin Lehner just 4:05 into the game, allowed just one goal.

Coyle capped the first-period scoring binge when he completed a 2-on-1 with Chris Kreider, burying a shot from the right side.

"I had just gotten on the ice and (the puck) hopped over the defenseman's stick," Coyle said. "I went for it and it turned into a 2-on-1. I was looking to pass to Kreider, but the D had his stick down and he played him good, so I just put a shot up and it found a corner."

Bennett picked up an assist for starting the mini-break, and later drew an assist on Nelson's goal.

"I thought they both did a very good job," U.S. coach Keith Allain said. "Charlie was on the power play, he killed penalties. Beau did a good job for us on the power play. They did what we hoped they would do. … They played well. It was a great game and they were good players in a great game."

It's not that it's a surprise Coyle and Bennett played so well. Both were first-round picks at the 2010 Entry Draft -- the Pittsburgh Penguins made Bennett the 20th player picked at the 2010 Entry Draft, while the San Jose Sharks selected Coyle at No. 28 -- but they really hadn't been tested at this level of competition.

Bennett, playing with the Penticton Vees of the British Columbia Hockey League, had a league-leading 120 points in just 56 games. Coyle, playing for South Shore of the Eastern Junior Hockey League, was fifth in his league with 63 points in 42 games.

"There's a factor that reduces those numbers," Penguins assistant director of amateur scouting Randy Sexton told "You look for the skill that generates those numbers. When you look at Beau, he's got all the natural offensive skills you want. He was just in a league that he was a superior player."

The same can be said of Coyle. However, neither player struggled with the pace.

"Doesn't look like it was his first time at all," Kreider, who played left wing on Coyle's line, with Kyle Palmieri on the right side. "He's just such a big, strong kid. I remember playing against him in prep school before I went to Boston College and he was a dominant player at that level. He looks like he belongs out there, playing just like he did in prep school. He's dominating, playing physical, playing his game. Doesn't look out of place at all."

"It was the best players from their country," Coyle said. "It was tough going in. But they're just regular kids, regular players like myself."

Zucker started the first-period scoring binge, roofing a pretty backhander just 1:16 into the game. Forbort made it 2-0 just 1:20 later when his shot from the point on the power play eluded Lehner. Faulk's power-play shot from the point at 3:07 made it 3-0.

Sweden coach Roger Ronnberg called timeout at that point, but it didn't help -- 58 seconds later, Coyle scored to end Lehner's night.

Sweden started to rally with 2:39 left in the first, when Lander got the last whack at an Adam Larsson shot for a power-play goal.

Cehlin and Josefson scored 3:42 apart in the second period to make it a one-goal game, but that was as close as Sweden could get.

"Our guys hung in there," Allain said. "It's one thing to let them get close, it's another to let them take the lead and we didn't allow that."

The third period was a chippy, choppy affair that saw 14 penalties get called, but the U.S. closed the game out strong. Faulk's point shot hit the right post, bounced off Petterson-Wentzel's back at 9:41 to make it 5-3, and Nelson added an empty-net goal in the final 12 seconds to close the scoring.

The U.S. returns to action Wednesday against Finland.

Contact Adam Kimelman at

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