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World Championships: Preds Prospect Craig Smith Scores In Team USA 5-1 Win

by Staff Writer / Nashville Predators
U.S. Men's National Team Tops Austria, 5-1, in Opening Game of 2011 IIHF World Men's Championship

Twelve Different U.S. Players Record At Least One Point

KOSICE, Slovakia – Twelve different players contributed points as the U.S. Men's National Team opened play in the 2011 International Ice Hockey Federation World Men's Championship here today with a 5-1 victory over Austria, including Preds 2009 draftee Craig Smith.

"It was a good way to start," said Scott Gordon, head coach of Team USA. "I liked our effort and we'll build off of the success we had today."

Chris Kreider (Boxford, Mass./Boston College) opened the scoring for Team USA with 5:18 left in the opening period when he skated up the right side and beat Austrian goaltender Jurgen Penker on the short side from just above the goal line. Mark Fayne (Nashua, N.H./New Jersey Devils/Providence College) and Derek Stepan (Hasitngs, Minn./New York Rangers/University of Wisconsin) drew assists on the play. Less than three minutes later, Blake Wheeler (Robbinsdale, Minn./Atlanta Thrashers/University of Minnesota) banged home a pass from Stepan from just above the goal line and to Penker's right to give the U.S. a 2-0 advantage after 20 minutes.

Team USA killed off three penalties to begin the second period, including a five-on-three disadvantage for 1:18, but Austria cut the deficit in half with six minutes remaining in the frame when Marco Pewal's shot from the slot beat U.S. netminder Al Montoya (Glenview, Ill./New York Islanders/University of Michigan). Yan Stastny (St. Louis, Mo./CSKA Moscow/University of Notre Dame), however, jammed one past Penker on the third attempt with just :57 left in the middle stanza to give the U.S. a 3-1 advantage after two periods.

Kevin Shattenkirk (New Rochelle, N.Y./St. Louis Blues/Boston University) extended Team USA's lead to 4-1 just 2:47 into the final stanza from the top of the right circle after a nifty off-ice pass from Nick Palmieri (Utica, N.Y./New Jersey Devils). Craig Smith (Madison, Wis./University of Wisconsin) finished off the scoring for Team USA on a power play late in the final frame. Jack Johnson (Ann Arbor, Mich./Los Angeles Kings/University of Michigan) sent an outlet pass to Smith in the neutral zone, who then skated in, used an Austrian defenseman as a screen, and wristed a shot home from the top of the right faceoff circle at 16:42.

Montoya made 12 saves in the victory for the U.S., while Penker stopped 27 shots in the loss for Austria.

The U.S. Men's National Team will next face Norway on Monday (May 2), at 10:15 a.m. EDT in its second preliminary round game at the 2011 IIHF World Men's Championship. The game will be broadcast live on Versus and scoring updates will be available on Twitter by following #2011WMC.

NOTES: Team USA went 1-for-3 on the power play, while Austria was 0-for-5 with the man advantage ... Chris Kreider was named the U.S. Player of the Game ... The 2011 U.S. Men's National Team roster can be found here and the media guide can be downloaded here ... The U.S. Men's National Team's fourth-place finish at the 2009 IIHF World Men's Championship was Team USA's best finish at the tournament since capturing the bronze medal in 2004 ... The 2011 U.S. Men’s National Team is under the direction of the U.S. Men’s National Team Advisory Group, including NHL general managers Brian Burke (Toronto), Paul Holmgren (Philadelphia), Dean Lombardi (Los Angeles), David Poile (Nashville), Ray Shero (Pittsburgh) and Dale Tallon (Florida); Atlanta Thrashers president Don Waddell; and Jim Johannson, USA Hockey's assistant executive director for hockey operations. Paul Fenton, assistant general manager of the Nashville Predators and general manager of the American Hockey League's Milwaukee Admirals, is serving as associate general manager of the 2011 U.S. Men's National Team ... Scott Gordon is head coach for the second consecutive year after leading the 2010 U.S. Men's National Team, while Greg Cronin, Phil Housley and Barry Smith are serving as assistants ... USA Hockey's international council, chaired by Tony Rossi, vice president of USA Hockey, has oversight responsibilities for all U.S. national teams ... Versus will provide live television coverage of all Team USA games at the 2011 IIHF World Men's Championship. For more information, visit USAHockey.com.

GAME SUMMARY
Scoring By Period
USA 2 - 1 - 1 - 4
AUT 0 - 1 - 0 - 1

First Period - Scoring: 1, USA, Kreider (Fayne, Stepan), 14:42; 2, USA, Wheeler (Stepan), 17:15. Penalties: USA, team (too many players on the ice), 11:01.

Second Period - Scoring: 3, AUT, Pewal (T. Raffl, M. Raffl), 14:00; 4, USA, Stastny (Wilson, Fowler). Penalties: USA, Stuart (tripping), 4:38; USA, Wheeler (roughing), 10:20; USA, Stuart (delaying the game), 11:02; AUT, Koch (hooking), 19:03.

Third Period - Scoring: 5, USA, Shattenkirk (Palmieri, Shannon), 2:47; 6, USA, Smith (Johnson), 16:42 (pp). Penalties: AUT, Tratting (hooking), 5:14; AUT, Werenka (hooking), 5:58; USA, Stastny (tripping), 19:53.

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