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USA takes care of business<br> Offense Cranks Out 48 Shots <br> Goalies share shutout as Germany overwhelmed

Doors nearby occasionally opened, allowing the fans' booming "U-S-A!" chants to leak into the interview room.

Maybe Canadian fans have overtaken Western New York. Perhaps Team Canada has steamrolled its competition so far. But Team USA is still the defending champion.

Standing a few feet away, American forward Kyle Palmieri turned his head toward the noise. Yes, that dream rematch against Canada lingers in the back of his mind.

"But we have to focus on the team that we're playing each night," he said.

And this night, Team USA's victim was Germany. With an unapologetic offensive attack, the Yanks teed off on Germany from the get-go en route to a 4-0 win. For the Americans, Thursday night at HSBC Arena was about taking care of business. Soon, the title defense really begins. This victory put the Americans (3-0) in sole possession of first place in Group A with one more round-robin game to go, tonight at 8 against Switzerland.

Against Germany (0-4), Team USA's offense peppered goalie Niklas Treutle for 48 shots as Charlie Coyle, Jerry D'Amigo, Jon Merrill and Chris Kreider all scored goals. The Americans opened fire immediately with 23 dizzying first-period shots.

"We have to jump out on teams in the first period," Palmieri said. "That goes a long way. That momentum the last couple of games has carried us through."

Two goals in a 48-second span during the first demoralized Germany right away.

On the first goal -- with four players fighting for possession at the blue line -- the puck squirted out to Coyle. The 6-foot-2 forward corralled it, crept toward the goal untouched and roofed his shot to put his team ahead. Moments later, a German defender panicked while getting checked and dropped the puck behind him where USA's D'Amigo intercepted it and scored.

Merrill and Kreider added goals in the second period with Kreider's tally off a pretty feed from Palmieri. The Syracuse Crunch forward lulled the Germans to sleep, waiting patiently for Kreider to settle into the slot. And with a quick one-timer, he needled it through.

Kreider buried it and, with his mouthpiece hanging from his lip, skated toward Palmieri to celebrate. This was a play the two had been working on in practice for a while.

With the game in hand, maintaining good health became Team's USA priority. Forward Jason Zucker, the recipient of a dirty blow to the head against Slovakia, did not dress against Germany. And with 9:02 to go Thursday, coach Keith Allain pulled goalie Jack Campbell (14 saves) for backup Andy Iles.

"This isn't about individual stats," Allain said, "and Jack will probably be the first to tell you that."

Everyone on Team USA is keeping perspective. Defeating Germany was a small step toward bigger plans ahead. Kreider deadpanned that his team isn't ready to play Team Canada. Not yet, anyway.

"We still need to get a lot better," Kreider said. "It's not hard to watch them and see how strong they are."

But by staying undefeated, Team USA further flexed its own muscles. Listening in on those cheers of fans leaving the arena, Palmieri allowed himself to daydream for just a moment.

"If it comes to a game where it's us against Canada," he said, "it will be an unbelievable atmosphere."

e-mail: tdunne@buffnews.com

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