YARMOUTH, Nova Scotia - Nick Schmaltz (Verona, Wis.) tallied two goals and two assists and Connor Hurley (Eagan, Minn.) posted a goal and three assists to help the U.S. Junior Select Team beat Russia, 8-3, tonight in its World Junior A Challenge opener at Yarmouth Mariners Centre.
"We put a lot of emphasis on special teams and it paid off tonight," said Derek Lalonde, head coach of the U.S. Junior Select Team. "We scored very early on the power play and then survived the first period thanks to our penalty killing. Our depth is one of our strengths and we needed it with so much special teams play tonight. We're looking forward to playing Canada East tomorrow on its home soil."
Karson Kuhlman (Cloquet, Minn.) staked Team USA to a 1-0 lead on a power play just 1:31 into the game. Hurley fired a shot on goal that Kuhlman deflected past goaltender Sergei Korobov.
In the back half of the first period, the U.S. penalty killers maintained the narrow lead by negating 6:46 of consecutive power-play time for Russia.
Team USA took control of the game in the second period, out-scoring Russia 5-1, including a four-goal spree to start the frame. Zeb Knutson (Sioux Falls, S.D.) tallied on a deflection 30 seconds into the second period. Then over a seven-minute span, Schmaltz scored twice on the man-advantage and in between Hurley potted an even-strength goal.
Russia found the scoresheet at 17:23, but Knutson responded at 19:04 with his second goal of the night to make it 6-1 in favor of Team USA after 40 minutes.
Both the U.S. and Russia scored twice in the third period. Russia tallied at 1:41 before Team USA's Kyle Connor (Shelby Twp., Mich.) and Shane Eiserman (West Newbury, Mass.) scored back-to-back at 9:28 and 14:04, respectively. Russia notched its final goal in the last minute of play.
Goaltender Cal Petersen (Waterloo, Iowa) had 22 stops in the victory. Russia's Korobov saved 15 of 18 shots in 23:37, while his backup, Maxim Tretiak, made 16 saves on 21 shots.
Team USA concludes group play on Wednesday (Nov. 6) against Canada East at 7:00 p.m. EST. All tournament games will be streamed live at FASTHockey.com. Those interested in watching should sign up for a free account in advance at USAHockey.FASTHockey.com.
NOTES: Team USA's captain is Dennis Kravchenko (San Clemente, Calif.), while the alternate captains are C.J. Franklin (Forest Lake, Minn.) and Karson Kuhlman (Cloquet, Minn.) ... The World Junior A Challenge is in its eighth year and the United States is competing for the seventh time … Team USA has won four of the last five tournaments (2008-10, '12) … The 2013 field includes Canada East, Canada West, Czech Republic, Russia, Switzerland and the United States … The official event website is available here ... All players on the U.S. roster, which includes 13 forwards, seven defenseman and two goaltenders, compete in the United States Hockey League. For the complete roster, click here … The 22 players represent 10 states. Eight players hail from Minnesota, while Michigan has four players and California and New Jersey have two apiece. Other states include Illinois, Iowa, Massachusetts, Missouri, South Dakota and Wisconsin ... Two players on the roster are eligible for the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, including goaltender Chris Birdsall (Glen Rock, N.J.) and forward Kyle Connor (Shelby Twp, Mich.) ... All 22 players are verbally committed to attend NCAA Division I hockey programs in the future ... Thirteen USHL teams are represented. Leading the way are the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders, Dubuque Fighting Saints, Green Bay Gamblers and Sioux Falls Stampede, which have three players each ... Derek Lalonde (Brasher Falls, N.Y.), head coach and general manager of the USHL's Green Bay Gamblers, is the head coach for the 2013 U.S. Junior Select Team ... The assistant coaches are Anthony Noreen (Chicago, Ill.) and Mark Abalan (Green Bay, Wis.). Noreen is the head coach and general manager for the USHL's Youngstown Phantoms, while Abalan is an assistant coach for the USHL's Sioux City Musketeers. Additional team staff includes Team Manager Marc Boxer (Colorado Springs, Colo.) of USA Hockey, Equipment Manager Darrin Flinchem (Indianapolis, Ind.) of the Indiana Ice, Athletic Trainer Steve Bagus (Oak Lawn, Ill.) of the Chicago Steel and Team Physician Dr. Alan Ashare (Boston, Mass).
Tag(s): World Jr. A Challenge