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U.S. National Junior Team Earns 12-2 Win over Latvia at IIHF World Junior Championship

By USA Hockey, 01/03/12, 10:00PM EST


CALGARY, Alta. -- Austin Watson (Ann Arbor, Mich./Peterborough Petes) scored a natural hat trick and added four assists to help the U.S. National Junior Team past Latvia, 12-2, this afternoon at the Scotiabank Saddledome in the relegation round of the 2012 International Ice Hockey World Junior Championship.

"I was happy with our effort and intensity," said Dean Blais, head coach of the U.S. National Junior Team. "It was good to see our offense gel today and hopefully that can continue tomorrow."

Team USA took a 1-0 lead five minutes into the first period when Watson redirected a long slap shot from Jarred Tinordi (Millersville, Md./London Knights) past Latvia goaltender Kristers Gudlevskis. Watson scored again six minutes later, lifting a wrist shot over Gudlevskis' blocker from the slot to give the U.S. a two-goal advantage.

Then, with less than four minutes remaining in the frame, Watson completed the natural hat trick with a power-play tally, scoring from the slot once again. Jason Zucker (Las Vegas, Nev./Univ. of Denver) notched a shorthanded goal at 18:47 of the first to give Team USA a 4-0 lead after one.

J.T. Miller (East Palestine, Ohio/Plymouth Whalers) and Nick Bjugstad (Blaine, Minn./Univ. of Minnesota) scored goals just 10 seconds apart to push the U.S. advantage to 6-0 in the first minute of the middle frame. Then, following a Latvian goal, Bill Arnold (Needham, Mass./Boston College) extended the U.S. lead to 7-1 with a backhanded shot the found the upper corner of the net at 5:38.

Team USA added four more goals in the second period, including tallies by Adam Clendening (Niagara Falls, N.Y./Boston Univ.), Kyle Rau (Eden Prairie, Minn./Univ. of Minnesota) and two more by Bjugstad, giving him a hat trick as well. Watson assisted on three of those four goals, bringing his point total to seven.

The teams exchanged goals in the third to close out the scoring, with Austin Czarnik (Washington, Mich./Miami Univ.) logging Team USA's lone goal of the period. Jack Campbell (Port Huron, Mich./Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds) made 27 saves in the win, while Gudlevskis and Cimermanis combined for 46 saves in a losing effort.

Team USA improved to 2-0-0-3 (W-OTW-OTL-L) overall and, with a win against Switzerland tomorrow (Jan. 4) in its final outing of the tournament, would finish in seventh place. The game will start at 5 p.m. EST and be streamed live in the United States on

NOTES: Austin Watson was named Team USA's Player of the Game ... Team USA finished 4-for-9 on the power play, while Latvia was 0-for-3 with the man advantage ... Watson's seven points (3-4) tied the U.S. National Junior Team single-game record set by Ted Drury (2-5) and Doug Weight (1-6) in a 19-1 win over Denmark on Jan. 1, 1991. Other top point efforts for Team USA in the game came from Nick Bjugstad with five (3-2--5) and Brandon Saad (Gibsonia, Pa./Saginaw Spirit) with four (0-4--4) ... Dean Blais, head men's ice hockey coach at the University of Nebraska Omaha, is serving as head coach of the 2012 U.S. National Junior Team. He is assisted by Scott Sandelin, head men's ice hockey coach at the University of Minnesota Duluth; Tom Ward, head ice hockey coach of the Shattuck-St. Mary's School's boys' prep team; and Joe Exter, assistant men's ice hockey coach at Ohio State University ... Jim Johannson, USA Hockey's assistant executive director of hockey operations, is serving as the general manager of Team USA for the third consecutive year. Tim Taylor (Guilford, Conn.), former U.S. Olympic Men's Ice Hockey Team head coach and longtime Yale University men's ice hockey team head coach, is also serving his third straight year as Team USA's director of player personnel ... The U.S. National Junior Team blog will provide daily updates with game recaps, photos and multimedia content. The blog can be found here ... Use the hashtag #USAWJC to join the conversation on Twitter.


Scoring By Period

USA 4 - 7 - 1 - 12
LAT 0 - 1 - 1 - 2

First Period - Scoring: 1, USA, Watson (Tinordi, Bjugstad), 5:40; 2, USA, Watson (Merrill, Bjugstad), 11:53; 3, USA, Watson (Rau, Archibald), 16:17 (pp); 4, USA, Zucker (Saad), 18:47 (sh). Penalties: LAT, Pelss (cross-checking), 8:10; LAT, Andersons (hooking), 15:45; USA, Tinordi (cross-checking), 18:07.

Second Period - Scoring: 5, USA, Miller (Zucker, Clendening), 0:46 (pp); 6, USA, Bjugstad (Saad, Watson), 0:56; 7, LAT, Girgensons (Pelss, Blugers), 2:03; 8, USA, Arnold (Rau), 5:38; 9, USA, Clendening (Watson, Saad), 12:08; 10, USA, Rau (Watson, Trouba), 13:05 (pp); 11, USA, Bjugstad (Watson, Johns), 15:30; 12, USA, Bjugstad (Saad, Merrill), 16:41 (pp). Penalties: LAT, Pelss (slashing), 0:32; LAT, Salija (roughing), 2:39; LAT, Pelss (slashing), 12:29; LAT, Nimanis (slashing), 16:16; LAT, Team (too-many-men), 17:25.

Third Period - Scoring: 13, USA, Czarnik (unassisted), 2:16; 14, LAT, Blugers (Salija, Pelss), 13:25. Penalties: LAT, Straupe (hooking), 6:19; USA, Archibald (interference), 14:06; USA, Merrill (cross-checking), 15:14; LAT, Lipsbergs (interference), 18:20.

Shots by Period 1 2 3 Total
USA 12 33 13 58
LAT 9 10 10 29
Goaltenders (SH/SV) 1 2 3 Total
USA, Campbell 60:00 9-9 10-9 10-9 29-27
LAT, Gudlevskis 40:56 12-8 4-2 13-12 29-22
LAT, Cimermanis 19:04 -- 29-24 -- 29-24

Power Play: USA 4-9; LAT 0-3
Penalties: USA 3-6; LAT 9-18
Officials: Referees - Devin Klein (CAN), Mikael Nord (SWE); Linesmen - Jiri Gebauer (CZE), Johannes Kack (SWE)
Attendance: 9,146

Team USA 2012 IIHF World Junior Championship Schedule Dec. 26 - Jan. 5 • Alberta, Canada

Date Opponent Location* Time (MST)
Mon., Dec. 26 Denmark Edmonton 6 p.m.
Wed., Dec. 28 Finland Edmonton 1:30 p.m.
Fri., Dec. 30 Czech Republic Edmonton 1:30 p.m.
Sat., Dec. 31 Canada Edmonton 6 p.m.
Mon., Jan. 2 Quarterfinals Calgary TBD
Tues., Jan. 3 Semifinals Calgary TBD
Thurs., Jan. 5 Bronze-Medal Game Calgary 1:30 p.m.
  Gold-Medal Game Calgary 6 p.m.

All games in Edmonton will be played at Rexall Place. All games in Calgary will be played at Scotiabank Saddledome.
^Pre-tournament game ..... $Preliminary Round ..... #Relegation Round