Ostrava/Trinec, Czech Republic - Zac Jones scored and K'Andre Miller had an assist as the Team USA defeated Team Germany 6-3 at the 2020 IIHF World Junior Championship on Friday.
Jones, drafted by the Rangers in the third round this past summer (68th overall), gave the US a 2-1 lead near the end of the second period. He got the puck in the slot and scored on a one timer at 18:37. It was the defenseman's first goal in the tournament.
"I thought it was a good game for us," Jones said. "Obviously it was not our best performance, but we found a way to win that game."
Trevor Zegras had four points for Team USA, which played in back-to-back games after losing its tournament opener against Team Canada on Thursday.
"Obviously, playing against Canada, it's a big rivalry there - lot of emotions, lot of intensity," Jones said. "It was a good game. A few bounces and we win that game, a few bounces and they win. The puck bounced their way, and we took penalties they scored on and we didn't capitalized on our power play. So it could have gone either way.
"Losing a game [stinks], but you're not going to win or lose a tournament on the first day. Coming back from that game was definitely huge for us."
The second group stage game wasn't an easy ride for Team USA. Team Germany got off to a good start and took a 1-0 lead 2:32 into the opening period. John Peterka scored on a power play from a sharp angle shot at the right post, beating US goalie Dustin Wolf top shelf. Tim Stutzle and Dominik Bokk had the assists. Germany then continued with its offensive game plan, but Wolf came up big between the pipes.
"They're a good team," said Jones, who got 16:45 of ice time, was plus-2 and had three shots on goal. "We played them in an exhibition game and kind of dominated them. We didn't expect them to come out that fast and kind of fell on our heels a little bit there. But once we got going, I feel like we dominated that game."
Though Germany kept Wolf busy, it couldn't capitalize. Instead, Team USA tied the game. Defenseman Jordan Harris lit the lamp to even the score at 1-1 when he got an open lane at the center of the offensive zone and found an opening by the left post.
Then, Jones made it 2-1.
"I jumped on the ice and saw [Nick Robertson] make a nice play keeping the puck in the zone, and Zegras got the puck in front," he said. "I was walking down Broadway and just yelling at him. I wanted the puck really bad, and thank God he heard me. He is an elite passer. I closed my eyes and shot it and it went in."
Just like the first period, the middle act started with Germany setting the pace. Their speed and frenzy resulted in a power play when Trevor Zegras got a minor penalty for high stick at 1:34. Team Germany took advantage of the power play and for the second time on the night, Peterka scored.
Dominik Bokk, who had three points in the game, then gave the Germany a 3-2 lead, scoring on the rush at 8:36 of the second. Team USA tied the game 3-3 at 16:21. Miller, who finished with 19:11 in ice time and a plus-1 rating, made a drop pass to Zegras, who shot the puck. On the rebound, Shane Pinto found the back of the net.
Zegras then had his fourth assist of the game when he, from behind the net, found Curtis Hall, who gave Team USA the lead. In the third period, Germany tried to tie the game, but a minor penalty on Daniel Wirt was costly. With a man advantage, Team USA scored, courtesy of Bobby Brink, to make it 5-3 at 7:18. USA captain Oliver Wahlstrom gave the US a 6-3 lead at 10:51, scoring his first goal of the tournament.
"It was good pulling this one out today," Jones said.
Team USA now has one day off from game action before playing Team Russia on Sunday.
"A day off [Saturday] will be good for us to recharge the batteries," Jones said. "Coming off the Canada game tonight, I wouldn't say we went through emotions, but I feel we could have played better. So getting to recharge the batteries tomorrow and play Russia will be a good test. Im excited for it."