• Kreider Watch
• Stepan Watch
It was a big night for the three American Rangers prospects at the World Junior Championship hockey tournament on Saturday, as the trio helped Team USA rout Slovakia 7-3 in the tourney opener for both teams at Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.
After falling behind 2-0 early in the first period, the Americans stormed back to score the next four goals, and one player who had a huge role in the comeback was the Rangers' 2008 second-round draft pick Derek Stepan
, the team captain who ended his night with a goal, two assists and a plus-4 rating.
Fellow Rangers prospect Chris Kreider
also hit the scoresheet with an assist in the game. Kreider tied Stepan and three other U.S. players with a team-high five shots on goal and was plus-1 for the game.
Currently a sophomore at the University of Wisconsin, Stepan helped get Team USA on the scoreboard at 9:34 of the first, assisting an even-strength goal to make it 2-1. The Americans went on to tie the game at 2:50 of the second period, and then took the lead for good when Stepan scored an even-strength tally at 5:39 of the second to make it 3-2.
Kreider, the Rangers' first-round pick last June, helped stretch the lead to 4-2 less than a minute after Stepan's goal by assisting on a power-play tally at 6:36 of the second.
Stepan picked up his third point of the night with an assist on Danny Kristo's goal at 13:54 of the second, making it a 5-3 game. Team USA added two goals in the third to run away with an easy win, outshooting Slovakia 46-20.
Rangers prospect Ryan Bourque
, a center drafted in the third round last June, also played for Team USA, skating on the second line in the victory. He finished the night with a plus-1 rating.
The Americans will go for their second straight win when they face Switzerland on Sunday at 4 p.m. ET.
One other Rangers prospect, forward Roman Horak, also competed in the World Junior tournament on Saturday, as he took part in the Czech Republic's 10-1 loss to Sweden at Regina. Horak, a 2009 fifth-round Rangers draft pick who plays in the Western Hockey League, had one shot and was minus-3 for the game. The Czechs resume play on Sunday against Finland.