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U.S. Tops Italy, 5-2, in MWC Pre-Tournament Game

By, 05/02/17, 3:15PM EDT


MILAN, Italy – The U.S. Men’s National Team earned a 5-2 victory over Italy here tonight in its lone exhibition game in advance of the 2017 IIHF Men’s World Championship, which begins Friday (May 5) in Cologne, Germany.

"It was important to play a game and we did some good things," said Jeff Blashill, head coach of the 2017 U.S. Men's National Team. "We'll utilize this to build off of heading into our opening game of the world championship."

Team USA got off to a fast start with Jack Eichel (North Chelmsford, Mass./Buffalo Sabres/Boston University) wristing one home on the power play from the left circle at 1:24. Noah Hanifin (Norwood, Mass./Carolina Hurricanes/Boston College) and Johnny Gaudreau (Salem, N.J.Calgary Flames/Boston College) were credited with assists on the play. It was the only goal of the period.

While Team Italy didn't get its first shot on goal until more than 13 minutes into the period, U.S. netminder Jimmy Howard (Syracuse, N.Y./Detroit Red Wings/University of Maine) made a couple of key stops in the final seven minutes, including one on Marco Insam from the left circle and on a wraparound attempt by Morini Giovannia. Team USA outshot Italy by a 9-5 count in the period.

The U.S. struck quick to open the second period and again, it was on the power play as Jacob Trouba (Rochester, Mich./Winnipeg Jets/University of Michigan) blasted one home from the center point at 2:54. The goal came after a U.S. faceoff win and was just :08 into the man advantage opportunity. Christian Dvorak (Palos, Ill./Arizona Coyotes) and Brock Nelson (Warroad, Minn./N.Y. Islanders/University of North Dakota) assisted on the play.

Dylan Larkin (Waterford, Mich./Detroit Red Wings/University of Michigan) wristed a shot from the top of the left faceoff circle that bounded off and then over Italy netminder Andreas Bernard to increase the U.S. advantage to 3-0 at 8:56.

Italy got on the board on Giulio Scandella’s power play marker from the left circle at 11:38 of the second, but goals 1:20 apart less than two minutes after the Italian goal gave the U.S. a 5-1 advantage after two periods. Nick Schmaltz (Madison, Wis./Chicago Blackhawks/University of North Dakota) made a nifty shoulder fake between defenders and put the puck up high from between the circles at 13:26 and then Nick Bjugstad (Minneapolis, Minn./Florida Panthers/University of Minnesota) put home Connor Murphy’s (Dublin, Ohio/Arizona Coyotes) shot from the point at 14:46.

Italy scored on the power play at 4:56 of the third as Giovanni Morini’s shot just trickled over the goal line to account for the 5-2 final.

Howard finished with nine saves in just over 31 minutes of action, while Connor Hellebuyck (Commerce, Mich,/Winnipeg Jets/UMass Lowell) stopped 10 shots in 28-plus minutes of play.

The U.S. opens preliminary-round play at the 2017 IIHF Men's World Championship against Germany this Friday (May 5) at 2:15 p.m. ET. The game will be televised live on the NHL Network, in addition to being streamed live on the NBC Sports App. 

NOTES: Lou Vairo, who coached the 1984 U.S. Olympic hockey team, dropped the ceremonial puck prior to the game. Vairo, who is USA Hockey's director of special projects, was the head coach of Milano Saima for two seasons … Fans in the south end zone of the arena stood throughout the game and waved flags, sang, clapped and pounded on drums … A total of 13 different players contributed points, including five defensemen ... The U.S. outshot Italy in the game by a 31-21 count … Italy was 2-7 on the power play, while the U.S. was 2-4 … For complete game stats, click here ... Defenseman Charlie McAvoy will join Team USA in Cologne tomorrow.

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May 2 Italy (exh.) W, 5-2 Agora Arena Milan, Italy
May 5 Germany L, 1-2 LANXESS Arena Cologne, Germany
May 7 Denmark W, 7-2 LANXESS Arena Cologne, Germany
May 8 Sweden W, 4-3 LANXESS Arena Cologne, Germany
May 10 Italy W, 3-0 LANXESS Arena Cologne, Germany
May 13 Latvia W, 5-3 LANXESS Arena Cologne, Germany
May 14 Slovakia W, 6-1 LANXESS Arena Cologne, Germany
May 16 Russia W, 5-3 LANXESS Arena Cologne, Germany
May 18 Finland (quarterfinal) L, 0-2 LANXESS Arena Cologne, Germany


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