INNSBRUCK, Austria - Shane Gersich (Chaska, Minn.) scored three goals to lead the U.S. Youth Olympic Boys' Ice Hockey Team to a 7-2 victory over Austria in its opening game at the 2012 Winter Youth Olympic Games this afternoon at Tyrolean Ice Arena.
"It was a good way to start the tournament," said Ben Smith, head coach of the U.S. Youth Olympic Boys' Ice Hockey Team. "We started off very strong, but got a little disoriented as the game went on. Tomorrow we'll get back to square one against a tough team from Canada."
Gersich opened up the scoring for Team USA 47 seconds into the contest with assists credited to Marcel Godbout (Center Line, Mich.) and Nick Schmaltz (Verona, Wis.). Then, 26 seconds later, Joe Wegwerth (Brewster, N.Y.) gave the U.S. a two-goal lead. Team USA held a 4-0 advantage going into the first intermission thanks to power-play goals by Ryan MacInnis (St. Louis, Mo.) at 9:02 and Gersich at 12:03 of the opening frame.
After Austria found the back of the net at 5:40 of the second period, Gersich responded for his third goal of the game to reopen a four-goal lead for Team USA at 9:37.
Austria made it a 5-2 game with a goal 44 seconds into the third period. However, Team USA answered with a pair of shorthanded tallies on back-to-back shifts. MacInnes netted the first shorthanded goal at 11:06 and Godbout followed suit with a tally of his own 18 seconds later to secure the 7-2 victory for Team USA.
Edwin Minney (Wind Gap, Pa.) and Logan Halladay (Cary, N.C.) combined to make 14 saves in the U.S. victory, while Stefan Muller made 35 saves for Austria.
The U.S. Youth Olympic Boys' Ice Hockey Team will face Canada tomorrow (Jan. 15) at 12 p.m. EST.
(Nathan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)