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U.S. improves to 2-0 against Russia with a 6-1 victory

by Kevin Wilson / Nashville Predators
Four power-play goals on eight attempts enabled Team USA to cruise to a 6-1 victory in Game Two of a four-game exhibition series against Russia this week at the 2009 USA Hockey National Junior Evaluation Camp at the Olympic Center in Lake Placid.

The Predators are being represented at the camp by 2009 second-round pick (41st overall) Zach Budish, an Edina, Minn., native who will play at the University of Minnesota in 2009-10. The Team USA roster, which was paired down prior to the four exhibition games, features 26 players drafted in either 2008 or 2009.

The United States improved to 2-0-0 halfway through the four-game set, outscoring the Russians 14-2 behind eight power-play tallies in the two games. The red, white and blue were also strong on the penalty kill, extinguishing all eight Russian power-play opportunities, improving to 13-for-13 through two games.

“Our special teams were without a doubt the key to tonight’s game,” 2010 U.S. National Junior Team Head Coach Dean Blais told “While I was happy to see our power play come through, we can’t keep taking soft second penalties to put us down two men. Our discipline must improve moving forward.”

Goaltender Jack Campbell stopped 24-of 25 shots in his exhibition series debut, coming up with some crucial save during four three-on-five disadvantages.

The U.S. offense was once again led by 2008 Montreal second-round pick Danny Kristo, who notched three points (1g-2a) to move his camp total to 11 points (7g-4a) through five games – second only to 2009 Vancouver first rounder Jordan Schroeder, who picked up a goal and an assist to move his camp total to 12 points (4g-8a) through five-of-seven camp contests.

Despite being outshot 13-9 in the first period, a Kristo man-advantage goal enabled the U.S. to take a 1-0 lead through 20 minutes. Schroeder and Farmington Hills, Mich., native Cam Fowler – who will skate alongside Predators first-round pick Ryan Ellis on the Windsor Spitfires next season – notched two more power-play goals in a span of 94 seconds in the second period to put Team USA up by three.

Shortly after the expiration of a five-on-three Russian advantage midway through regulation, Sergey Ostapchuk of the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies (QMJHL) put the visitors’ lone goal on the board to make it 3-1.

The United States rounded out the scoring with three third-period tallies – Fowler’s second of the game on a power-play shot from the point, a goal scored by driving to the net by 2009 Anaheim first rounder Kyle Palmieri and 2009 N.Y. Rangers third-round pick Ryan Bourque’s second marker in as many games.

The two teams play their final two games on Friday at 6 p.m. and Saturday at 4 p.m. The camp serves as USA Hockey’s first organized look at potential members of the United States’ entry at the 2010 World Junior Championships, held Dec. 26, 2009-Jan. 5. 2010 in Regina and Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.
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