The United States bounced back in a big way Wednesday, following up a shutout loss in their previous game with a dominating 10-1 rout of Switzerland in Group A action at the 2016 IIHF World Junior Championship.
Auston Matthews (2016) collected two goals and two assists to lead the U.S. attack. Fellow top 2016 draft prospect Matthew Tkachuk scored twice and added an assist, while Colin White (OTT), Zach Werenski (CBJ) and Christian Dvorak (ARI) each notched a goal and two helpers.
While 11 different skaters recorded a point for the Americans, Sabres prospect Will Borgen (2015, fourth round) was not one of them, finishing the night with a plus-1 rating. Borgen’s workload was rather light with the U.S. rotating seven defensemen into the action, but for the third straight contest, he displayed his consistent defensive posture and confidence when carrying the puck.
Through three tournament outings, Borgen has one assist, two shots on goal and a plus-2 rating. He has not been on the ice for any of the four goals the Americans have allowed.
The teams exchanged just three shots in the opening seven minutes of action, but the floodgates opened soon after with the U.S. getting even-strength goals from six different players to take a 6-0 advantage into the first intermission.
Christian Dvorak opened scoring for the Americans at 7:23, emerging from behind the net to push the rebound of a Werenski shot underneath Swiss backstop Joren van Pottelberghe (DET).
The Americans added another marker 63 seconds later as Matthews cleaned up a Tkachuk jam play at the net by batting the puck out of midair for his first of the game.
Top-pairing defenseman Brandon Carlo (BOS) was the next to join the list of scorers at 10:13 when he lofted a wrist shot from the right point over van Pottelberghe’s glove.
Not to be outdone by his blue line partner, Werenski continued the wave of tallies at 12:59, joining the rush and one-timing a Dvorak pass past van Pottelberghe on the short side to give the U.S. a 4-0 lead.
With 4:50 remaining in the opening period, Tkachuk took a drop pass from Matthews and wired a shot stick side to chase van Pottelberghe from the Swiss net.
The U.S. snatched one more goal before the break as Yale University grinder Ryan Hitchcock battled through a check along the wall and fed a pass to Nick Schmaltz (CHI) for the finish at the door step with 3:27 left on the clock.
The Swiss would get on the board early in the middle frame with a Timo Meier (SJS) tap-in from in front, but the Americans kept their foot on the gas from there with four more lamp lighters.
Tkachuk quickly responded to Meier’s marker, going to the net with his stick on the ice to bury a Matthews feed for his second goal of the game at 2:12.
The Matthews show continued at 11:50 with a power-play goal off a nice diagonal pass from Schmaltz to increase the lead to 8-1.
Less than a minute later with the U.S. on the penalty kill, White one-timed a saucer pass from Dvorak for his second goal of the tournament.
The U.S. capped the 10-goal onslaught with 9:02 left in the middle period when Ryan Donato stepped into the right faceoff circle and unloaded a heavy wrist shot for an unassisted marker.
The Americans close the preliminary round with a New Year’s Eve date with Denmark. Switzerland moves on to a best-of-three relegation series against Belarus.
Sweden vs. Denmark
Elsewhere Wednesday, Adrian Kempe (LAK) scored the game-winning goal just 13 seconds into the first period as Sweden locked up first place in Group A with a 5-0 victory over Denmark. Felix Sandstrom (PHI) had to make just eight saves to earn the shutout.
Gustav Forsling (VAN), Oskar Lindblom (PHI), William Lagesson (EDM) and Alexander Nylander (2016) also scored for the Swedes, who complete preliminary-round play Thursday versus Canada. Denmark will search for their first win of the tournament Thursday against the United States.
Finland vs. Slovakia
Top 2016 prospect Jesse Puljujarvi recorded a goal and three assists to guide host Finland to an 8-3 hammering of Slovakia. The four-point night vaults Puljujarvi to the top of the tournament leaderboard with 10 points (3+7) through three games. Sebastian Aho (CAR) connected for a pair of power play markers and added one assist.
Patrik Laine (2016) scored for the third straight game and picked up a two helpers. The Finns close out the preliminary round Thursday with a key matchup with the Czech Republic. Slovakia moves on to face Russia.
Czech Republic vs. Belarus
The Czech Republic struck for three third-period goals to claim a 5-3 victory over Belarus. Moose Jaw Warriors forward Jiri Smejkal tallied a goal and an assist to lead the Czechs. Simon Stransky (2016), Dominik Lakatos, Radek Vesely and Dominik Masin (TBL) rounded out the scoring for the winning side.
Massive 6-foot-7 draft prospect Stepan Falkovski provided a goal and an assist for Belarus, who lost all four games of the preliminary round to set up a relegation series against the last-place finisher in Group A, Switzerland. The Czech Republic will look to maintain second place in Group B Thursday when they take on Finland.
For more on all the youngsters in the Sabres pipeline, check out Kris Baker’s website, SabresProspects.com. You can also follow him on Twitter (@SabresProspects) for in-game updates throughout the week on any Buffalo prospects that are in action. Stay with Sabres.com throughout the World Junior Championship for daily recaps from Kris.