TAMPERE – Nine U.S. skaters recorded at least a point and Seth Jones (Frisco, Texas) netted the game-winning goal to help propel the 2022 U.S. Men’s National Team to a 4-1 victory over Latvia here today in its first of seven preliminary round games at the 2022 IIHF Men’s World Championship.
“It was certainly a good way to start,” said David Quinn, head coach of the 2022 U.S. Men’s National Team. “Latvia is always difficult to play against and I thought we came out ready to play. Outside of some of the third period, I liked our game. We also got really good goaltending from Strauss (Mann) and that was a key to the game.”
The U.S. got out to a 3-0 lead after the opening period, scoring even strength, on the power play and shorthanded.
The U.S. had an early power play, but could not convert. Ben Meyers (Delano, Minn.) had a great chance late in the power play from point blank range and U.S. netminder Strauss Mann (Greenwich, Conn.) was sharp in stopping a 2-on-1 Latvian shorthanded break.
The U.S. got on the board at 7:11 after Andrew Peeke (Parkland, Fla.) sent a shot towards the net that pin-balled off the stick of Bellows and then the skate of Riley Barber (Pittsburgh, Pa.) past Latvian goaltender Elvis Merzlinkins.
Team USA upped its lead to 2-0 at 10:18 on the power play after Jones ripped a one-timer from the face-off dot after a dish from Nate Schmidt (St. Cloud, Minn.). Alex Galchenyuk (Milwaukee, Wis.) also drew an assist on the play.
Another special teams goal for the U.S. followed, however, this time shorthanded. Jones picked up a loose puck in the defensive zone which generated a two-on-one with Thomas Bordeleau (Houston, Texas) by his side. Jones chipped a backhand pass to Bordeleau who stretched out and sent a backhand shot from the goal line which squeezed in at 11:36.
Latvia looked to get on the board as time was winding down, but Mann made a pair of saves with less than :30 to go to keep it 3-0.
Sam Lafferty (Hollidaysburg, Pa.) skated through the Latvian defense and wristed one in the far side corner just :33 into the middle frame to extend the U.S. lead.
Latvia’s best chance in the frame came with a tick over five minutes left with a quick shot on the doorstep, but Mann blocked it aside.
Team USA killed the first leg of the five-on-three power play that started off the period, but Latvia took advantage of the extra skater and got one on the board early in the third.
Mann was tested moments later with a loose puck and several bodies in front of the crease, but was able to freeze the puck.
Latvia controlled much of the third period and led in shots halfway through, 10-2, but could not solve Mann, who finished with 24 saves in the contest.
NOTES: Seth Jones (Frisco, Texas) was named U.S. Player of the Game… The U.S. outshot Latvia, 29-25… Each team was 1-for-4 on the power play… Nine U.S. players made their IIHF debut today… For more information about the 2022 IIHF Men’s World Championship, click here.