Team USA began their hunt for gold at the 2013 IIHF World Junior Championships in spectacular fashion, dismantling Germany 8-0. After producing the best performance of the tournament's first two days, the United States looks primed for a very successful run.
Germany entered todays game 0-1 after a 9-3 loss to gold medal favorite Canada on Wednesday. Now 0-2, Germany is the only team in a strong Group B without a point.
The Americans needed just 19 seconds to net their first goal of the tournament, when Sean Kuraly scored assisted by Alex Galchenyuk and Riley Barber. Kuraly, Galchenyuk and Barber were lethal throughout the game, with all three players scoring goals. Giving Canada's trio of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Jonathan Huberdeau and Mark Scheifele a run for its money as the tournaments best line, the American group combined for eight points.
The USA's first ten minutes were practically perfect. The Red, White and Blue followed Kuraly's opener with a Jacob Trouba shot from the point that gave them a 2-0 lead. Less than two minutes later, 2012 third overall pick Alex Galchenyuk walked into the slot and sniped his first goal of the tournament.
Team USA spent much of the period on the power play, creating numerous chances although none became goals. The power play would strike in the second when top 2013 prospect Seth Jones hit Shayne Gostisbehere for a beautiful one-timer, but not before Riley Barber could do his best Sean Kuraly impression, scoring just 14 seconds into the period. The two goals in the opening minute of periods exhibited the deadly speed that makes Team USA a dangerous quick strike force.
In the third period, Jones showed off his immense talent with highlight a reel goal from the point. He played a tremendous game, looking creative and dangerous from the point all day long. He was Team USA's best player throughout, ending the contest with a goal and an assist.
Eight different players scored for the United States, with three of them playing on defense. The American's controlled the puck for almost the entire game, winning battles for possession all over the ice and establishing themselves comfortably in the offensive zone.
As a result starting netminder John Gibson faced very little action. Despite the limited work, Gibson made a huge impression with a number of spectacular saves to kill off a German two-man advantage. He was relieved of duty after two perfect periods and backup Jon Gillies was more than sufficient to complete the shutout.
The United States looked fast, physical and hard-working in a game where nearly every player made a positive contribution. Unlike the Canadians, who were guilty of glaring defensive lapses in their 9-3 victory over Germany, the United States had no major flaws.
A similar effort against Team Russia tomorrow could put Team USA in the driver's seat in Group B and would relieve pressure heading into a matchup with Canada on Dec. 30.
The Russians were pushed into overtime by underdog Slovakia on Wednesday and looked vulnerable despite being the home team. Nail Yakupov and his countrymen will be driven in a must-win game against the US tomorrow.
If coach Phil Housley can deliver a win for Team USA against the hosts, it would nearly guarantee the team a spot in the knockout stage.