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U.S. Opens World Juniors With 4-2 Win Over Canada

12/26/2015, 1:15pm EST
By USAHockey.com

Alex Nedeljkovic stopped 25-of-27 shots

HELSINKI, Finland — Alex Nedeljkovic (Parma, Ohio/Niagara IceDogs) stopped 25-of-27 shots to help the U.S. National Junior Team earn a 4-2 victory over Canada in the opening game for both teams at the 2016 International Ice Hockey Federation World Junior Championship here tonight.

"I liked our effort overall," said Ron Wilson, head coach of the U.S. National Junior Team. "It's just the first game, but certainly a good way to begin the tournament."

Team USA used the last 2:40 of a scoreless first period and the first 2:20 of the second stanza to successfully kill off a five-minute penalty in what was a key stretch of Team USA’s victory.

Canada opened the scoring at 5:06 of the middle stanza with Matt Barzal finishing off a rebound on an initial two-on-one break. With 3:27 remaining in the period, Colin White (Hanover, Mass./Boston College) won the faceoff and, with the help of Christian Dvorak (Palos, Ill./London Knights), got the puck back to Sonny Milano (Massapequa, N.Y./Lake Erie Monsters). Milano’s fired the puck off the end boards where White retrieved it at the left post and flipped it in on the backhand to send the game into the third period tied 1-1.

Team USA took its first lead of the game when Zach Werenski (Grosse Pointe Woods, Mich./University of Michigan) fired a wrist shot from the blue line through a screen on a U.S. power play at 7:22 of the third period. Three minutes later, however, Canada responded with its own power play goal to even the score 2-2.

With 3:18 to play, Will Borgen (Moorhead, Minn.) sent a pass to Louie Belpedio (Skokie, Ill./Miami University), whose shot from the point deflected off a Canadian defenseman’s stick and redirected into the net. Less than a minute later, Auston Matthews (Scottsdale, Ariz./ZSC Lions) extended the U.S. lead to 4-2 when he pushed home a loose puck in the Canadian crease.

The U.S. will continue play at the 2016 IIHF World Junior Championship at 9 a.m. ET on Monday (Dec. 28) when it takes on Sweden.

NOTES: White was named U.S. Player of the Game … Canada outshot the U.S., 27-25 ... The U.S. is 1-0-0-0 (W-OTW-OTL-L) at the 2016 IIHF World Junior Championship … For more information on the 2016 U.S. National Junior Team, including a full roster, click here ... Use the hashtag #USAWJC on Twitter to join the conversation about the U.S. National Junior Team ... The U.S. is competing in a group with Canada, Denmark, Sweden and Switzerland … All U.S. games will be broadcast live on NHL Network. For more information about the tournament, please click here. Check back for highlights and post-game comments.

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Team USA Schedule

Date Opponent Location Result U.S. Player of the Game
Sat., Dec. 26 Canada Helsinki Ice Hall W, 4-2 Colin White
Mon., Dec. 28 Sweden Helsinki Ice Hall L, 0-1 Zach Werenski
Wed., Dec. 30 Switzerland Helsinki Ice Hall W, 10-1 Auston Matthews
Thu., Dec. 31 Denmark Helsinki Ice Hall W, 4-1 Brandon Carlo
Sat., Jan. 2 Czech Republic
Quarterfinals
Helsinki Ice Hall W, 7-0 Nick Schmaltz
Mon., Jan. 4 Russia
Semifinals
Hartwall Arena L, 1-2 Christian Dvorak
Tues. , Jan. 5 Sweden
Bronze Medal Game
Hartwall Arena W, 8-3 Anders Bjork

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