The United States started out strong but couldn`t manage to capitalize in the first period. It took them until the 2nd period, but they found their groove.
|USA - Kazakhstan 5:1 (1:1, 2:0, 2:0)|
|Goals and Assists: 15. van Riemsdyk (Sweatt), 25. Rakhshani (Okposo, Reugsegger), 27. Carman (Schroeder), 45. Wilson (Fairchild, van Riemsdyk), 58. Okposo (Ruegsegger) - 15. Kurshuk (Vitoshkin, Bolyakin).
Referees: Charron, Muylaert, Blaha, Blumel.
Power Play Goals: 2:1 . Shorthanded Goals: 0:0.
|USA: Blum, Carman, Cole, Fairchild, Geoffrion, Johnson, Montgomery, McBain, Okposo, Pacioretty, Palmer, Rakshani, Ruegsegger, Rust, Sanguinetti, Schroeder, Smith, Strait, Summers, Sweatt, Van Riemsdyk, Wilson.|
|Kazakhstan: Bolyakin, Fast, Gasnikov, Gerassimov, Ivanov, Kachulin, Kaznacheyev, Kitsyn, Koreshkov, Kurshuk, Mazula, Paramzin, Ramazanov, Rudolf, Rymarev, Savchenko, Smolnikov, Tikhonov, Tumashov, Vitoshkin, Vorobyov.|
LIBEREC - The underdogs always come out hard.
Team USA Head Coach John Hynes knows that. And he prepared his players for that with Kazakhstan as their first opponent in the World Junior Championships in Liberec, Czech Republic.
After the end of the 1st period, the United States was tied 1-1 with a non-traditional hockey country. It was surprising, to say the least. The US scored with just three seconds left in the first to make it tied. Many thought that the US would blow out the weaker competition in their pool and contend for a medal.
“We knew Kazakhstan was going to come out and challenge us,” Hynes said following the victory.
However, the score at the end of the period was not at all indicative of the play of the US. They clearly dominated the play in the Kazakh’s zone. They out-shot the former Soviet Union territory by a total of 13-4 and totally outmanned them in face-offs, besting the Kazakhs on 12 of 15 face-offs.
Tyler Ruegsegger won all five of his first period face-offs. His line, consisting of him, Rhett Rakhshani and Kyle Okposo controlled play and opened up play for the other three lines to contribute.
“Overall we had a pretty good first period; I liked our composure and I thought we stuck to some of the concepts and fundamentals that we really wanted to do,” Hynes continued.
As the second period began, the United States began to pull away. Rhett Rakhshani scored four minutes into the period with the assists going to his linemates. Mike Carman added another one just 85 seconds later and that was enough to keep the US ahead for good. Kyle Okposo and Colin Wilson chipped in third period goals to seal the deal.
After the game, No. 2 overall NHL draft pick James van Riemsdyk was voted player of the game for the US. He notched two points. However, Ruegsegger made a strong case for the award. He two added two points, but his physical style and faceoff finesse might have earned him the award over the big named van Riemsdyk.
This team is very balanced. All four defensive pairs contributed heavily and all four lines clicked. They all stood out in their own ways.
“I think when we put the team together, we were going to have offense by committee with a team game and I think tonight’s game showed that philosophy. Everyone on our team came play – with the puck or without the puck and tonight was very indicative of that,” Hynes continued.
“We’re not just going to rely on one or two guys to do all of the scoring. We’ve got four lines and four sets of D that can play,” van Riemsdyk said post-game.
Moving on against the Swiss, another team not predicted to finish well in the tournament, the US has a chance to demonstrate consistency. The good news is, they have video and a day off for practice do help develop the best consistency.