MALMO, Sweden - Five different players scored and goaltender Jon Gillies (South Portland, Maine/Providence College) turned away 23 shots to help the U.S. National Junior Team defeat the Czech Republic, 5-1, in the opening game of the 2014 International Ice Hockey Federation World Junior Championship here today.
"When you get the two power-play goals to begin the game and can play with the lead it's much, much easier to play the game," sad Don Lucia, head coach of the U.S. National Junior Team. "Our defense did a good job breaking us out and Jon Gillies was there when we needed him."
Team USA grabbed a two-goal lead following a pair of power-play markers just 41 seconds apart in the opening minutes of the contest. Riley Barber (Pittsburgh, Pa./Miami University) collected the first U.S. goal at 1:21 when he beat Czech goaltender Daniel Dolejs from a tight angle. After taking a stretch pass from Matt Grzelcyk (Charlestown, Mass./Boston University), Barber skated wide left around a defender and snuck a backhand shot between Dolejs' leg and the near post.
The U.S. then doubled its lead when Will Butcher (Sun Prairie, Wis./University of Denver) one-timed a Jack Eichel (North Chelmsford, Mass./U.S. National Under-18 Team) feed over Dolejs' glove. Following a face-off win and several passes around the zone, Eichel made a perfect cross-crease feed to Butcher, who completed the tic-tac-toe play.
The score remained 2-0 until 9:23 of the middle frame when Hudson Fasching (Burnsville, Minn./University of Minnesota) collected a rebound to give Team USA a three-goal cushion. Following a key penalty kill by the United States and a handful of big stops by Gillies, Andrew Copp (Ann Arbor, Mich./University of Michigan) took a pass from Stefan Matteau (Chicago, Ill.), skated it into the zone and put a hard shot on net. The rebound kicked right to Fasching and he tucked it into the top half of the net.
Jaccob Slavin (Erie, Colo./Colorado College) made the score 4-0 at 17:03 of the second period when he knocked a bouncing puck into the goal. A Quentin Shore (Denver, Colo./University of Denver) point-shot was redirected at the edge of the crease and into the air. As it landed in the crease, Slavin tucked it inside the right post past the diving Dolejs.
After the Czech Republic's Michal Plutnar converted on a power play at 5:47 of the final stanza, Vince Hinostroza (Bartlett, Ill./University of Notre Dame) buried a breakaway chance at 17:49 to finish the scoring.
Team USA generated a steady offensive attack throughout the contest and held a 33-24 advantage in shots on goal in the game. The U.S. power play, which was instrumental during the squad's run to the gold medal at the 2013 IIHF World Junior Championship, was two-for-three against the Czechs.
The U.S. National Junior Team will be back in action Saturday (Dec. 28) when it takes on Slovakia. Puck-drop is scheduled for 7:30 a.m. ET and the contest will be broadcast live on NHL Network in the United States.
NOTES: Stefan Matteau (Chicago, Ill.) was named the U.S. Player of the Game ... The U.S. has medaled in three of the last four IIHF World Junior Championships, including gold in 2013 and 2010 and bronze in 2011 ... Don Lucia (Plymouth, Minn.), head coach of the University of Minnesota men's ice hockey team, is the head coach of the 2014 U.S. National Junior Team. Bob Motzko (St. Cloud, Minn.), head coach of the St. Cloud State University men's ice hockey team, Greg Brown (Scituate, Mass.), associate head coach of the Boston College men's ice hockey team, and David Lassonde (Denver, Colo.), assistant coach of the University of Denver men's ice hockey team, are the assistant coaches. Dan Muse (Clinton, Conn.), assistant coach of Yale University's men's ice hockey team, is serving as the team's video coordinator... Jim Johannson (Colorado Springs, Colo.), USA Hockey's assistant executive director of hockey operations, is serving as the general manager of Team USA for the fifth consecutive year ... Don Waddell (Detroit, Mich.), an international consultant to USA Hockey, is assisting with player identification for Team USA ... The U.S. is competing in a group with Canada, Czech Republic, Germany and Slovakia at the 2014 IIHF World Junior Championship.