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U.S. explodes for 14 goals in exhibition win

JAMESTOWN – The goals came fast and furious for Team USA Wednesday night.

Just 10 minutes into the game, the U.S. Men's National Junior Team had a 4-0 lead en route to a 14-0 win over Belarus in Northwest Arena.

It was the first exhibition game for the U.S. leading up to the 2018 IIHF Men's World Junior Championships which begin Dec. 26 in Buffalo.

Casey Mittelstadt, the first-round pick of the Buffalo Sabres, had a goal and three assists. Kieffer Bellows had two goals while Riley Tufte had two goals, including a short-handed tally, and two assists.

"There were some good things out there," U.S. coach Bob Motzko said. "We thought our defensemen got us up the rink. When (goaltender) Joe Wall was tested he was outstanding. It showed we've got some work to do on our penalty kill. We were off on that, but we haven't had a lot of time on that yet. We'll spend some time on that in the next week.

"And that's what we're doing. We're picking little things out," Motzko said. "We're looking for good detail, good habits in little parts of our game and I can pick a lot of good things out of there."

The U.S. struck early. Max Jones used his speed down the left side, wrapped around the net and found a streaking Reilly Walsh who ripped the puck into the net at 2:46 for a 1-0 lead.

Mittelstadt made it 2-0, taking a pass from Scott Perunovich in the slot, right in front of the Belarus goalie. His quick stick work with the puck handcuffed the Belarus goalie and beat him high.

Phil Kemp easily scored, skating up the gut of the ice and taking pass from Hugh McGing, for a 3-0 lead.

Less than a minute later Tufte fed Bellows on a 2-on-1 and just like that, the U.S. had a commanding 4-0 lead.

Mittelstadt then showed off his skill with the puck, pestering it away from Belarus in the neutral zone, gaining control, then feathering it over to Tuft who one-timed it for a 5-0 lead.

How about scoring on a delayed penalty? Mikey Anderson did just that with 1:58 left in the first.

With a 6-0 lead, Quinn Hughes took a slashing penalty with 1:27 left in the first. That gave starting goalie Joseph Woll a chance to shine as he made several impressive saves, moving quickly and efficiently latterly, to keep the shutout through 20 minutes. It was the hardest work he'd see, playing all 60 minutes to earn the shutout.

In the second, the U.S. made it 8-0 with goals 11 seconds apart from Hughes and Bellows. The Americans took the throttle off, but still managed to add two more goals in the period as Brady Tkachuck put in a rebound off a Logan Brown shot and a hard shot from Trent Frederic at the point went up and off the Belarus goalie into the net.

The Americans opened the third with two more quick goals. Just 25 seconds into the period, Mittelstadt fed Kailer Yamamoto from behind the net for the 11th U.S. goal of the game. Josh Norris made it 12-0.  The U.S. then got a little sloppy taking two penalties, including a call for too-many men and a delay of game faceoff violation.

The penalty kill produced offense, however, as Tuft and Norris scored short-handed goals for a 14-0 lead.

The Americans suffered their first injury in the run-up to the World Juniors. Forward Will Lockwood went down hard in the corner in the first period, skating off with an upper body injury.

As expected with an exhibition game, there were scratches of players who will likely make the final roster including captain Joey Anderson, forward Patrick Harper, and defensemen Ryan Lindgren and Adam Fox. Also scratched were goalie Jeremy Swayman, expected to be the third-string goalie for the U.S., and forward Ryan Poehling.

The U.S. has one more exhibition game, playing Sweden at 7 p.m. Friday in the Erie (Pa.) Insurance Arena.

The U.S. opens the tournament at 8 p.m., Dec. 26 against Denmark in KeyBank Center. They play Slovakia at 8 p.m. on Dec. 28 in KeyBank Center then play Canada at 3 p.m. Dec. 29 in the tournament's first outdoor game at New Era Field.

They finish off pool play with a game against Finland at 4 p.m. Dec. 31 in KeyBank Center.

The medal round begins Jan. 2 with the medal games on Jan. 5.






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