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U.S. wins opener in U-18 Four Nations Tournament

by Mike G. Morreale

Anthony Louis and Sean Malone each had a goal and one assist Tuesday when the U.S. Under-18 Team scored a 3-1 victory over Finland in the opener for both teams at the 2012 U-18 Four Nations Tournament at the Ann Arbor Ice Cube in Michigan.

Malone, who earned a C rating on NHL Central Scouting's preliminary players to watch list in the United States Hockey League, scored 17:02 into the second to give the United States a 2-1 lead. Tyler Kelleher had given the U.S. team a 1-0 lead 7:43 into the first, when the hosts  outshot the Finns, 22-6.

"It was important for us to start this tournament off on the right foot, especially as the host country," U.S. coach Don Granato said. "We'll build off [Tuesday's] win and start preparation for Switzerland immediately, as we expect a very competitive game."

Finland pulled into a 1-1 tie 3:40 into the second when Niko Ojamaki connected off a one-timer. Louis added the insurance goal at 8:43 of the third on assists by A-rated prospect Hudson Fasching and Malone, who was named Team USA's player of the game.

U.S. goalie Thatcher Demko stopped 19 of 20 shots, and Finland goalie Kaapo Kahkonen, its player of the game, turned aside 43 shots. The Americans, the four-time and defending tournament champion, held a 46-20 advantage in shots.

In the other game played Tuesday, Sweden scored a 5-4 overtime victory over Switzerland. Leon Bristedt, a C-rated prospect, scored the game-winner 1:30 into the extra session on assists by Wilhelm Westlund (C rated) and Victor Crus Rydberg (C rated). Westlund, Rydberg and Anton Karlsson (two assists) each had two points.

The United States will next face Switzerland on Wednesday at 7 p.m. ET at the Ann Arbor Ice Cube. Finland will battle Sweden at 3:30 p.m. ET.

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale

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