KINGSTON, Ontario – Nine different players notched goals as the United States National Junior Team defeated Latvia, 13-2, here tonight in its first of two pre-tournament games prior to the 2009 International Ice Hockey Federation World Junior Championship. Team USA outshot Latvia, 63-12, in the win.
James van Riemsdyk (Middletown, N.J./University of New Hampshire) opened the game's scoring when he tipped Jonathon Blum's (Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif.) shot at 6:37 of the first period.Mitch Wahl (Seal Beach, Calif.) gave the U.S. a two-goal lead when he scored a power-play goal over the blocker of Latvian goalie Nauris Enkuzens at 10:59. Colin Wilson (Greenwich, Conn./Boston University) and Aaron Palushaj (Northville, Mich./University of Michigan) each scored four-on-four goals with less than two minutes left in the period and Team USA led, 4-0, at the first intermission.
After Tyler Johnson (Spokane, Wash.) gave the U.S. a 5-0 advantage at 9:33 of the middle frame, Latvia got on the board off a two-on-one rush. Team USA quickly responded, scoring two goals in 19 seconds. Jordan Schroeder (Prior Lake, Minn./University of Minnesota) notched his second goal of the period on a shot from the top of the left circle at 13:21 and the U.S. held an 8-1 lead after 40 minutes.
Josh Unice (Holland, Ohio) replaced Thomas McCollum (Sanborn, N.Y.) in the U.S. net to start the third period. Team USA continued to score, notching four more goals before Latvia put the puck past Unice on a breakaway at 12:45. Mike Hoeffel (North Oaks, Minn./University of Minnesota) ended the scoring, getting his second tally of the period at 16:17 to account for the 13-2 final.
The U.S. National Junior Team returns to action Tuesday (Dec. 23) when it faces Russia at 7 p.m. EST in its final pre-tournament game prior to the 2009 IIHF World Junior Championship.
NOTES: Fourteen players tallied at least one point tonight ... Jordan Schroeder (2-1--3) was named Team USA's player of the game ... Defenseman Jonathon Blum is the captain of the 2009 U.S. National Junior Team, while forward Colin Wilson and defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk (New Rochelle, N.Y./Boston University) are the team's alternate captains ... The 2009 U.S. National Junior Team trained in Lake Placid, N.Y., at the Olympic Training Center from Dec. 16-20 ... Ron Rolston (Ann Arbor, Mich.), head coach of the U.S. National Under-18 Team within USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program, is the head coach of the 2009 U.S. National Junior Team. Nate Leaman (Clifton Park, N.Y./Union College) and P.K. O'Handley (Waterloo, Iowa/Waterloo Black Hawks) are serving as assistant coaches, while Jeff Blashill (Indianapolis, Ind./Indiana Ice) is the goaltending coach ... The NHL Network will broadcast live all Team USA games in the 2009 IIHF World Junior Championship ... Team USA finished fourth at the 2008 IIHF World Junior Championship and has played for a medal in the event each of the last six years.
(Nathan also is a writer for Maineiacs Post to Post and the Maine Hockey Journal. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)