HELSINKI, Finland — Alex Nedeljkovic (Parma, Ohio/Niagara IceDogs) stopped 25 of 27 shots as the U.S. National Junior Team opened its competition at the 2016 International Ice Hockey Federation World Junior Championship with a 4-2 win against Canada here today.
The U.S. was charged with a five-minute major and a game misconduct for spearing at 17:20 of the opening period, giving Canada a lengthy man-advantage that carried over to the start of the second period. However, Team USA was able to hold off Canada during the penalty kill to keep it scoreless.
At 5:06, Nedeljkovic stopped Canada on a two-on-one, but Canada’s Matt Barzal grabbed the rebound and put it past a sprawled Nedeljkovic to put the U.S. at a 1-0 deficit.
With 3:27 remaining in the second period, Colin White (Hanover, Mass./Boston College) won the faceoff and, with the help of Christian Dvorak (Palos, Ill./London Knights), got the puck back to Sonny Milano (Massapequa, N.Y./Lake Erie Monsters). Milano’s shot deflected off the backboards to White at the left post, who finished with a backhand to send the game into the third period tied 1-1.
Team USA took its first lead of the game when Zach Werenski (Grosse Pointe Woods, Mich./University of Michigan) fired a wrist shot from the blue line through a screen on a U.S. power play at 7:22 of the third period. Three minutes later, however, Canada responded with its own power play goal to even the score 2-2.
With 3:18 to play, Will Borgen (Moorhead, Minn.) sent a pass to Louie Belpedio (Skokie, Ill./Miami University), whose shot from the point deflected off a Canadian defenseman’s stick and was redirected into the net. Less than a minute later, Auston Matthews (Scottsdale, Ariz./ZSC Lions) extended the U.S. lead to 4-2 when he finished off a loose puck in the Canadian crease.
The U.S. will continue play at the 2016 IIHF World Junior Championship at 9 a.m. ET on Monday, Dec. 28 when it takes on Sweden.
NOTES: White was named U.S. Player of the Game … Canada outshot the U.S., 27-15 … The U.S. is 1-0-0-0 (W-OTW-OTL-L) at the 2016 IIHF World Junior Championship … For more information on the 2016 U.S. National Junior Team, including a full roster, click here … Use the hashtag #USAWJC on Twitter to join the conversation about the U.S. National Junior Team … The U.S. is competing in a group with Canada, Denmark, Sweden and Switzerland … All U.S. games will be broadcast live on NHL Network. For more information about the tournament, please click here.