In his first game since being named head coach of the Nashville Predators on Tuesday, Peter Laviolette led the United States to a 4-1 victory over host nation Belarus in both teams’ opening game of the 2014 World Championship in Minsk.
Predators forward Craig Smith, who was named an alternate captain earlier in the day, notched an assist on the team’s opening goal of the tournament, while Seth Jones played the second-most minutes among American skaters at 22:21 in his first career World Championship contest.
Elsewhere on the first day of competition, Canada lost to France in a shootout (3-2), with Predators defenseman Ryan Ellis playing 22:10 and finishing with a +1 rating, and Switzerland fell to Russia (5-0), with Predators defenseman Roman Josi leading all Swiss skaters in ice time (23:15) and Preds prospect Simon Moser leading all Swiss forwards in time on ice (17:24).
The United States and Switzerland are right back at it tomorrow at 12:45 p.m., playing each other, while Canada plays at the same time against Slovakia.
Finland (Miikka Salomaki, Pekka Rinne and Juuse Saros) and Sweden (Mattias Ekholm and Calle Jarnkrok) play their opening games tomorrow at 8:45 a.m. The Finns play Latvia, whose coaching staff includes Fairview, Tenn., resident Karlis Zirnis, while the Swedes take on Denmark.
The Nashville Predators have 13 representatives at the 2014 World Championship being held May 9-25 in Minsk, Belarus. Head Coach Peter Laviolette, Assistant Coach Phil Housley, Video Coach Lawrence Feloney, Seth Jones and Craig Smith are representing the United States, who is looking for back-to-back medals at the tournament after a bronze a year ago; Miikka Salomaki, Pekka Rinne and Juuse Saros are playing for Finland; Calle Jarnkrok and Mattias Ekholm are looking to defend Sweden’s crown at the tournament; Simon Moser and Roman Josi are looking to build on a silver-medal winning performance in last year’s worlds for Switzerland; and Ryan Ellis is playing for Canada.