Though Team USA may not have played its best game at the tournament Sunday, the result was pretty much the same. With a 4-0 win over Denmark, Team USA has now out-scored opponents 13-0 through three games at the 2012 IIHF World Men’s Under-18 Championship.
With the win, Team USA assured itself a spot in the medal round and is in the driver’s seat for the first-round bye. There is still a bit left to be decided over the next two days, with a potentially huge match-up with Canada on Tuesday.
Jared Rutledge got the nod in net for Team USA against Denmark, after Collin Olson started the first two. Despite the new goaltender, it was the same result. Once again, Team USA’s stifling defensive play stymied an opponent, allowing Denmark only 17 shots. Rutledge did make several big saves throughout the game to handle any miscue from the D, which were few and far between.
Once again, Team USA saw four different players score its goals, showing that great balance in the offense. Prior to the tournament, the thought was that the U.S. was going to need contributions from a committee of players without that natural go-to goal scorer. So far, it’s worked well for the U.S., with 13 goals through the first three tilts.
Coming up after the jump, a look at the goals scored and other top performers in Team USA’s 4-0 win over Denmark.
Matt Lane opened up the scoring for Team USA after converting on a beautiful feed from Brady Skjei. After Skjei took the puck at the point, he found a seam down the left side and hit a wide-open Lane, waiting on the backdoor. Lane had the whole of the net and made it count for his second of tournament play.
Team USA’s second goal came off the stick of Seth Jones. With Jones, Jake Trouba and Nic Kediles working the puck around the points, Kerdiles found Jones for an open one-timer and the big Dman didn’t miss. With a good, low shot, Jones made it 2-0 for his second power-play goal of the tourney.
Frankie Vatrano took advantage of a broken play, collecting a loose puck and slipping it under George Sorensen to give the U.S. a 3-0 lead. J.T. Compher and Lane picked up assists.
The goal of the game came from Quentin Shore, who has now scored in each of Team USA’s three games so far. After stealing the puck off a Denmark forward’s stick in front of the U.S. net, Shore took it down the ice himself and sent a shot through the D and into the top-right corner to close out the scoring at 4-0.
Despite giving up the four goals, George Sorensen was outstanding in net for Denmark, making 53 saves. Had he not been as good as he was, it could have been awfully ugly.
Other Top Performers
Quentin Shore — Shore has shown remarkable consistency through the first three games. He’s scored in each game and has been generating offense in other ways as well. Shore gives Team USA strength down the middle as one of the top centermen. He’s been good on draws and bordering on dynamic in the offensive zone.
Nic Kerdiles — Kerdiles was named Team USA’s player of the game after a one-assist effort. Kerdiles, however was consistently generating chances with speed and his big frame. He never struggled to get to the net and made it tough on Denmark’s D for most of the game. He’s been another consistent presence offensively for Team USA, tying for the team lead with four points (2-2).
Seth Jones — Another game, another excellent effort from Jones. He’s been just automatic in all zones. With four points in the tournament, Jones is Team USA’s leading point-getter among defenseman and tied for the team lead overall. There haven’t been many shifts in this tournament where Jones wasn’t the best player on the ice.
Jared Rutledge — Rutledge had some huge saves throughout the contest, but none were bigger than his blocker stop on Denmark’s leading scorer Oliver Bjorkstrand on a slight breakaway. Rutledge showed that Team USA’s two-headed monster in net is alive and well. With Collin Olson and Rutledge going as good as they are now, it gives Team USA a load of confidence moving forward.
Matt Lane — Lane had another big game for the U.S. with a goal and an assist. He also has four points in the tournament with two goals and two assists. Lane makes a lot of plays with his speed and gritty nature along the boards. His relentless forechecking has made it difficult on opposing defenseman and has helped lead to scoring chances. He’s having a very strong tournament.
Team USA will meet Canada Tuesday in what has the potential to be a hugely important game. The U.S. has a 3-0-0-0 record, but Canada can win tonight against the Czech Republic and create a potential tie-breaking scenario if the Canadians are able to beat the U.S.
I’ll try to update this post before Tuesday’s tilt against Canada to show the possible scenarios.
Team USA will take on its North American rival at 2 p.m. EDT Tuesday. You can catch the game live on FASTHockey.com in the United States only.