New Jersey native Chris Birdsall made 20 saves to lead the U.S. Under-17 Select Team to a 5-0 victory over Switzerland on Thursday in the second game of preliminary-round action at the 2012 U-17 Five Nations Tournament in Chomutov, Czech Republic.
Following a scoreless first period, Austin Poganski, Robert Nardella and Shane Gersich scored to give the U.S. team a 3-0 lead. Gersich, of Holy Family Catholic High School in Minnesota, also notched two assists. Birdsall made 10 saves in the second period.
"We started getting pucks and bodies to the net in the second period," U.S. coach Barry Smith said. "Our team has been making changes and adjustments, and we've gone out and been successful so far."
The United States received third-period goals from Kyle Connor and Seamus Malone to close out the scoring.
Birdsall, who will play for the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders of the United States Hockey League in 2012-13, was named player of the game for the Americans. As a freshman last season, he helped lead Glen Rock (N.J.) High School to the State Public B semifinals, allowing four goals in four playoff games before his team lost to Tenafly in a shootout in the semifinal round. Birdsall had a 1:08:22 shutout streak during Glen Rock's postseason run.
The Five Nations Tournament includes teams from the Czech Republic, Germany, Slovakia, Switzerland and the United States. The 20 players on the U.S. roster represent 12 different states, with Minnesota leading the way with five players, while Michigan and Illinois each have three.
The U.S. will next meet the Czech Republic on Friday before closing out the tournament against Slovakia on Saturday.