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USA falls to Germany in World opener

by Staff Writer / New York Rangers
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Rangers forward Brandon Dubinsky, defenseman Matt Gilroy and prospect Chris Kreider will certainly play in much bigger games than the one they appeared in Friday at Gelsenkirchen, Germany, but they might never play in front of a larger live audience.

Dubinsky, Gilroy, Kreider and their U.S. teammates dropped the opening game of the 2010 IIHF World Championship to tournament host Germany 2-1 in overtime Friday. A record 77,803 fans were in attendance.

Rangers prospect Chris Kreider was on the ice for the Americans' first goal of the tournament and played a big role on Team USA's fourth line.
The World Championship opener was held in the Veltins-Arena soccer stadium, which has a roof overhead. It easily shattered the previous single-game hockey attendance record of 74,554 fans. who saw the University of Michigan face Michigan State on Oct. 6, 2001, at East Lansing Mich.

Buffalo Sabres prospect Felix Schutz, a member of the AHL's Portland Pirates in 2009-10, notched the game-winner for Germany just 21 seconds into overtime when he crashed the net as a teammate unloaded a blast from the left-wing boards. The puck hit Schutz on the shin before deflecting past USA goalie Scott Clemmensen of the Florida Panthers for the upset victory.

Schutz's goal required a video review. as officials sought to determine if the puck was deliberately kicked into the net. The leg contact was shown to be incidental, and the goal stood.

Germany had led for much of the game after scoring at 5:20 of the second period, but the Americans forced the overtime on a goal by Kreider's linemate, Ryan Carter, at 8:28 of the third.

Despite the loss, the young U.S. team earned a valuable standings point by sending the game to overtime. Team USA will have an even better chance to enter the win column as heavy favorites in its next game against Denmark on Monday.

The Americans outshot their hosts 32-20, but they struggled to put the puck past German goaltender Dennis Endras, who finished with 31 saves. Endras, 24, plays for the Augsburg Panthers of the German Elite League (DEL).

Dubinsky centered the top U.S. line alongside right wing Kyle Okposo of the Islanders and left wing Nick Foligno of the Ottawa Senators. U.S. head coach Scott Gordon relied heavily on the line at crunch time, as Dubinsky saw 6:54 of ice time in the third period and 19:53 for the game. Among U.S. forwards, only Okposo (20:12) was on the ice more than Dubinsky.

Kreider skated on an energetic fourth line with Toronto's Christian Hanson, who played half the season with the Maple Leafs, and Ryan Carter of the Anaheim Ducks.

It was a remarkable opportunity for the 19-year-old Kreider to gain world-class experience while still attending Boston College. Kreider finished with one shot on goal aand a plus-1 rating in 7:37 of ice time. He also drew a penalty behind the German net when he was taken down by former NHL player Sven Butenschon at 6:16 of the second period.

Gordie Clark, the Rangers’ Director, Player Personnel, is attending the tournament in Germany. Clark said that prior to Friday's game, he had wondered how Kreider would perform against veteran professionals.

Clark was initially concerned that appearing at the World Championship might be too great of a jump for Kreider despite all the success he had in winning a World Junior gold, Beanpot title, Hockey East title and NCAA championship in the past year. In those other settings, Kreider rarely played against anyone over 23 years old.

"It didn't take long for him (Kreider) to relax me in my seat, as he took the puck with speed around the net and set up Ryan Carter in the slot for a great scoring chance," said Clark. "On the next shift, he used his speed to drive down the left wing and blasted a slap shot the goalie had to move quickly to catch. Germany used a trap to suffocate the USA forwards in the neutral zone, but Chris actually beat it at times with his top-end speed."

Gilroy, who saw his ice time increase in each of the last two periods, had a scoring chance from the right point near the end of the Butenschon penalty. He later joined the rush and had a hard wrister stopped by Endras with roughly seven minutes left in the second.

Paired with a range of other defensemen, including Edmonton's Taylor Chorney and New Jersey's Andy Greene, Gilroy finished with three shots on goaland a plus-1 rating in 11:51 of ice time. He was particularly effective in the German zone -- often joining the rush -- and  was on the ice for an offensive-zone faceoff with seven seconds left in regulation time.

With under seven minutes left in the third period, Gilroy had a chance to score a go-ahead goal from the left circle amid more U.S. pressure, but his shot was stopped.

Led by the Dubinsky line, the Americans kept the puck in Germany's zone for the vast majority of the final period and finally broke through when Carter batted home the rebound of Hanson's shot while setting a sreen in front of Endras.

The puck barely slipped through Endras' pads, and the German goalie accidentally kicked the puck over the goal line into his own net with the back of his right leg. Hanson was initially credited with the goal, but the score was later changed to Carter, since the puck had hit the Anaheim forward on its way toward the net.

Kreider wasn't awarded an assist on the Hanson goal, but he might have deserved one after managing to put his stick on a loose puck along the right boards and redirecting it back to Hanson.

"Chris got in on top of the German defense, and moved the puck back to the point for a shot on net that led to the goal, so I'm not sure how they could rule that an unassisted goal," Clark said.  "Thinking back a year, I remember watching Chris play in front of 100 Andover students and parents. And here he was tonight -- skating against men in front of a record-breaking crowd of loud, singing German hockey fans."

Rangers defenseman Matt Gilroy saw 11:51 of ice time for Team USA on Friday and jumped into the rush for some prime scoring American chances.
Before Carter's goal, Dubinsky nearly scored on a power play just under six minutes into the third period when he got open in front and  tried to stuff the puck past Endras, who held his ground. Dubinsky then fed Foligno a minute later with a perfect pass, but Endras stopped Foligno from the right circle.

Germany got the game's first goal at 5:20 of the second period when Michael Wolf took a centering pass from Marcel Mueller at the left side of the ice and fired it past Clemmensen from just outside the crease to Clemmensen's left.

The 29-year-old Wolf, a 29-goal scorer for the DEL's Iserlohn Roosters in 2009-10, also played for Germany at the 2010 Olympics. Christoff Ullman, a teammate of Mueller's with the Cologne Sharks, picked up the other assist on Wolf's goal.

The 1-0 lead set off a big celebration among the German fans, who sang non-stop songs throughout the game, creating the kind of atmosphere usually associated for European soccer matches.

Earlier, the Americans outshot the Germans 8-7 in the scoreless first period, but could not solve Endras, who made his biggest stop on a partial breakaway by Foligno during a 4-on-4 with Dubinsky in the penalty box for Team USA.

Kreider and Gilroy each had a shot on goal during the opening period. Endras was forced to make a tough save on Gilroy's blast from the right point

Despite taking a penalty for tripping at the 10:20 mark, Dubinsky saw 6:49 of ice time in the first period. Kreider was on ice for 3:30, and Gilroy played 3:18.

Friday's game was the only one of the tournament to be played outside of the main tournament sites in Cologne and Mannheim, Germany. Team USA resumes play on Monday vs. Denmark at Cologne.

Team Canada, which also features three Rangers in defensemen Marc Staal and Michael Del Zotto, along with goalie Chad Johnson, begins tournament play against Italy on Saturday in Mannheim.

Two other Rangers are participating in the tournament. Forward Artem Anisimov begins play with Team Russia vs. Slovakia on Monday in Cologne, while defenseman Michal Rozsival will skate for his native Czech Republic in that nation's opener against France in Mannheim on Monday.
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