CORNWALL, Ontario – Eleven different players notched points and Christian Manz (Blaine, Minn.) made 12 saves as the U.S. Junior Select Team secured a 9-0 win over Latvia in its final preliminary round game of the 2022 World Junior A Challenge today at the Cornwall Civic Complex.
“Today’s game was very well played. We’ve had a game plan throughout this whole tournament of the way we want to play,” said Eric Rud (Inner Grove Heights, Minn.), head coach of the U.S. Junior Select Team, “and I thought we stayed with it today. We played winning hockey from start to finish and got rewarded as the game went on. Latvia really played well defensively, but I thought our guys did a great job of staying simple and sticking with the game plan."
The U.S. finished second in the preliminary round and will face third-ranked Sweden in semifinal play tomorrow (Dec. 17) at 7 p.m. ET.
“Tomorrow is the real deal,” Rud added. “Either we’re in or we’re out. Our mission the whole time has been to finish on top here, so with that mission in front of us, we have to do things the right way. We don’t want to complicate things, and hopefully we’ll come out tomorrow like we did today. I believe that we will.
Eric Pohlkamp (Brainerd, Minn.) broke the ice with 6:04 to play in the first, scoring far side from the point. Nathan McBrayer (Columbus, Ohio) and Maddox Fleming (Rochester, Minn.) both picked up assists on the goal.
Joe Palodichuk (Cottage Grove, Minn.) doubled the U.S. tally just under three minutes later, firing a backhander past Latvian netminder Aksels Ozols off a beautiful feed through the screen from Mac Swanson (Anchorage, Alaska). Cole Knuble (Grand Rapids, Mich.) also earned an assist.
Pohlkamp added his second goal with a top shelf snipe from the slot to give Team USA a 3-0 lead with 5:06 to play in the second. Tanner Adams (Northport, N.Y.) notched an assist with a sneaky backhand pass, as did Knuble.
Ethan Whitcomb (Muskegon, Mich.) made things 4-0 moments later with a net front one-timer off a feed from Jake Richard (Jacksonville, Fla.). Ryan St. Louis (Burlington, Vt.) picked up an assist as well.
With just 14 seconds left in the middle frame, Pohlkamp completed the hattrick with a wrister from the right faceoff circle. Richard picked up his second assist of the night on the play, while Whitcomb earned his first.
Swanson made things 6-0 with a power-play goal on the doorstep at the 7:03 mark of the third, and Andrew Strathmann (Beach Park, Ill.) added a seventh just past the halfway mark to earn his first point of the tournament.
Richard struck next, going bar down from the slot three minutes later, and Knuble rounded out scoring at 9-0 with a one-timer with 5:03 to play.
NOTES: Eric Pohlkamp was named the U.S. Player of the Game … Team USA outshot Latvia 42-12 … Team USA was 1-1 on the power play and took no penalties … For Team USA’s roster and schedule, click here.