When given the opportunity on the international stage, Jake Oettinger has delivered. The 22-year-old netminder has been nothing short of fantastic in his two appearances at the 2021 IIHF Men's World Championship in Riga, Latvia, including a 22-save performance in Team USA's 2-1 victory over Norway on Saturday.
He's won both games he's been in and has stopped 48-of-50 shots over that span. He made his World Championship debut in a relief appearance on May 23 vs. Canada, calmy turning aside 26 of 27 shots in a 5-1 victory. On Saturday, the Lakeville, Minnesota native withstood heavy pressure from Norway in the closing minutes to preserve a 2-1 lead for the United States and propel them into first place in Group B with 12 points.
[Complete coverage: Follow Oettinger, Robertson and Shea's quest for gold at Worlds]
It marked Team USA's fourth consecutive victory of the tournament and improved its record to 4-0-0-1 (W-OTW-OTL-L) in the preliminary round. The win also continued Team USA's dominance over Norway in IIHF Men's World Championship play, boosting its all-time mark to 19-0-0-1-0 (W-OTW-OTL-L-T). Norway's lone win over the U.S. came on March 9, 1951.
Though Oettinger normally goes about his business in a calm, relaxed and unruffled manner, he committed absolute robbery in Saturday's victory. With the U.S. holding a two-goal lead, Oettinger's desperation glove save on Norway's Mats Rosseli Olsen with 11:24 remaining in the second period could go down as one of the best in the tournament.
It's worth a reminder that Oettinger is still in the early stages of his professional hockey career, having completed his rookie season with Dallas earlier in the month. Selected in the first round (26th overall) of the 2017 draft, Oettinger posted an 11-8-7 record, 2.36 goals-against average, .911 save percentage and one shutout in 29 appearances with the Stars in 2020-21.
Providing the offense for Team USA on Saturday were Conor Garland and Tage Thompson, who scored their first goals of the tournament.
Stars forward Jason Robertson was held off the scoresheet for the first time in the tournament. The 21-year-old had points in his first four games, recording two goals and three assists over that span.
Team USA will take on Germany on Monday (May 31) in its sixth of seven preliminary round games. Game time is set for 8:15 a.m. CT with coverage on NHL Network. If the U.S. wins its final two games (Germany, Italy) in any fashion, it'll guarantee no worse than second-place in group play. As a reminder, NHL Network is airing all Team USA games plus quarterfinal, semifinal and medal contests.
NOTE: Texas Stars defenseman Ryan Shea didn't dress for the game and has yet to make his debut in the tournament.
The 2021 IIHF World Championship is taking place in Riga, Latvia. The 16-nation tournament began May 21 and runs through June 6. For complete coverage, click here.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club.
Kyle Shohara is the Digital Manager for DallasStars.com and writes about the Stars/NHL. Follow him on Twitter @kyleshohara.