VICTORIA, British Columbia (AP) — Mikey Anderson and Evan Barratt scored early in the third period and the United States rallied to beat Slovakia 2-1 on Wednesday night to open the World Junior Championship.
Kyle Keyser made 13 saves for the Americans, allowing only Marek Korencik’s goal late in the second period at Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre. Keyser stopped Andrej Kukuca on a penalty shot with 6:45 left to preserve the lead.
”This is a resilient group,” said Keyser, who plays for the Ontario Hockey League’s Oshawa Generals. ”We’re never going to give up. We’re going to play right until it says zero in the third period. We showed that tonight. There’s no quit in that room and that’s how it’s going to be.”
Anderson, the U.S. captain, plays for Minnesota-Duluth, and Barratt for Penn State.
”That game was far from perfect, but good teams have to find ways to win tough games and this team did that here tonight,” said U.S. coach Mike Hastings of Minnesota State-Mankato. ”If we pay attention to the little things, get all lines rolling, a lot of the challenges we created for ourselves here tonight will get cleaned up. Tomorrow we’ll address some detail, regroup and look to put together a good 60 minutes of hockey the next game.”
Slovakia’s Samuel Hlavaj also stopped a penalty shot, thwarting Jason Robertson in the second period, and finished with 32 saves.
The Americans will face Kazakhstan on Friday night, play Sweden on Saturday night and complete round-robin play against Finland on Monday night.
In the other Group B opener in Victoria, Erik Brannstrom scored twice in Sweden’s 2-1 victory over Finland. Aarne Talvitie scored for Finland on a power play late in the third.
In Group A at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, defending champion Canada routed Denmark 14-0. Maxime Comtois had four goals, Morgan Frost added three goals and two assists, and Michael DiPietro made 12 saves. Comtois is the lone returning player for the title team a year ago in Buffalo, New York.
”That’s why he’s the captain of the team,” coach Tim Hunter said. ”He led in all aspects of the game tonight – around the puck, playing physical, getting pucks out, and then obviously the four goals.”
Earlier at Rogers, David Kvasnicka scored on a long wrist shot 52 seconds into overtime to give the Czech Republic a 2-1 victory over Switzerland. Martin Kaut also scored for the Czech Republic, and Lukas Dostal made 26 saves. Mando Eggenberger scored for Switzerland.