Prior to the start of the 2016 World Junior Hockey Championships, USA Hockey named Columbus prospect Zach Weresnki team captain, with Louie Belpedio (Minnesota), Colin White (Ottawa, pictured) and Auston Matthews (’16 Draft) as the alternates.
And on day one of the tournament, those all proved to be wise choices.
Belpedio scored the winner while White — named player of the game — Werenski and Matthews each finished with a goal and assist to give the U.S. a 4-2 win over Canada in Helsinki.
Things couldn’t have started much better for the U.S.
But, in saying that, they also couldn’t have started much worse.
In the opening period, forward Alex DeBrincat was ejected for spearing Team Canada forward Travis Konecny. A highly-talented offensive player — DeBrincat leads the OHL in scoring — it was unclear how the U.S. would react to losing him for the remainder of the contest.
Just fine, apparently.
After Matthew Barzal gave Canada a 1-0 lead, White responded on assists from Sonny Milano and Christian Dvorak, which set the stage for an eventful third period.
Werenski opened the scoring on the power play to make it 2-1 for the Americans, only for Dylan Strome — the third overall pick in 2015 (Arizona) — to reply for the Canadians midway through the frame.
Strome’s marker wouldn’t stand for long.
Belpedio scored roughly six minutes later, aided by a deflection from Canada’s Joe Hicketts. Matthews then scored the insurance marker with less than three minutes remaining, to put the game to bed.