GRAND FORKS, N.D. - Kailer Yamamoto (Spokane, Wash.) recorded four points (2-2) and Clayton Keller (Swansea, Ill.) scored two goals and added one assist as the U.S. Men’s Under-18 National Team downed Russia, 8-2, here tonight at the Ralph Engelstad Arena. The game was the first for Team USA at the 2016 International Ice Hockey Federation Under-18 Men’s World Championship.
The United States opened scoring 3:44 into the first frame when Adam Fox (Jericho, N.Y.) sprung Keller with an outlet pass through center. Keller skated in and fired a shot that found space under Maxim Zhukov’s right leg pad and into the net. Less than a minute later, Trent Frederic (St. Louis, Mo.) backhanded a pass to James Sanchez (Northbrook, Ill.) who ripped a shot over the shoulder of Zhukov. Russia sliced the U.S. lead in half at the 5:17 mark, capitalizing on a rebound opportunity to the right of the net.
Russia knotted the game, 2-2, just over two minutes into the second stanza off a wraparound marker. After an outstretched stick save by Jake Oettinger (Lakeville, Minn.), Team USA pressed up ice and Yamamoto found Keller up the right boards. Keller flung a shot toward the net from the goal line and the puck ricocheted off Zhukov and in. Fourteen seconds later, off the ensuing faceoff, the U.S. worked the puck to Kieffer Bellows (Edina, Minn.) whose shot slid under Zhukov to double the Team USA advantage. Joey Anderson (Roseville, Minn.) and J.D. Greenway (Potsdam, N.Y.) assisted.
The U.S. extended its lead, 5-2, when Yamamoto tipped a Chad Krys (Ridgefield, Conn.) shot past Zhukov 6:19 into the third period. Anderson stuffed home a rebound at 7:30 on the power play and Team USA went up, 6-2. Krys and Keller earned helpers on the play. Yamamoto netted his second of the frame when a centering attempt was knocked past Zhukov by a Russian defenseman. Logan Brown (Raleigh, N.C.) and Casey Mittelstadt (Eden Prairie, Minn.) collected the assists. Brown joined in on the scoring with six minutes remaining in the game as Team USA pulled away with an 8-2 victory. Yamamoto and Griffin Luce (Williamsville, N.Y.) recorded helpers on Brown’s marker.
Oettinger made 19 stops in the win for the United States, while Zhukov and Danil Tarasov combined for 37 saves in the loss for Russia.
The U.S. Men’s Under-18 National Team continues preliminary play versus Sweden on Saturday (April 16). Puck drop is slated for 4:45 p.m. ET. The contest can be seen live on the NHL Network.