U.S. demolishes Latvia, 12-1
U.S. demolishes Latvia, 12-1
Americans lead Group A with nine points
Trent Frederic scored a hat trick and added an assist. Kailer Yamamoto potted two goals, and Adam Fox, Kieffer Bellows, and Clayton Keller had a goal and two assists apiece as the U.S. moved closer to wrapping up top seed in Group A.
James Sanchez, Joey Anderson, Zachary Walker, and Nick Pastujov also scored for the Americans. All in all, 16 different U.S. players recorded a point or more.
"It just shows you the depth of this team," said Yamamoto. "They definitely picked a great team for this tournament and I’m just looking forward to going to the medal round."
Vladislavs Nazarovs replied for Latvia, which lost its previous two games in extra time.
This outcome was predictable, if even more lopsided than past history might have led you to anticipate. The U.S. won the previous two U18 meetings with Latvia 8-0 (2007) and 7-1 (2013). The defending champions are gunning for their tenth U18 gold medal since this tournament began in 1999.
Final shots favored the U.S. 58-23. They have outscored their rivals 26-4 so far.
This was the third-biggest margin of victory in tournament history, equalling the 12-1 U.S. victory over Belarus in 2006. Canada set the record with a 15-1 win over Denmark in 2005.
The Americans will complete their preliminary schedule against Switzerland on Tuesday. Latvia gets another chance to crack the win column against Russia on Monday.
"The next game is a big one," said U.S. head coach Danton Cole. "We’ll get a day of rest and get ready for Switzerland and keep moving through it. When you’re done with one game, the next one’s the most important."
The Latvians did their best early on, though they ran into penalty trouble with a bench minor for too many men and a cross-checking minor to Olafs Berzins, which gave the U.S. an extended two-man advantage.
On a subsequent Latvian power play, Oettinger had to be sharp to foil Erlends Klavins from point blank range. And then hope swiftly died for the Baltic nation.
At 14:27, the U.S. drew first blood. Sanchez rushed the puck into the Latvian zone, pulled up in the right faceoff circle, and squeezed a bad-angle shot through Niklavs Rauza, who his first start in goal for Latvia.
Two minutes later, Anderson gobbled up a Bellows rebound and flung it past a lunging Rauza to make it 2-0.
Of his line's chemistry together, Bellows said: "I feel like as the season has gone on, it’s gotten even better."
Late in the period, Walker took a run at Emils Gegeris, who was clearing the puck out of Latvia’s zone. The Latvian forward crumpled to the ice while trying to dodge the hit and was helped off, while Walker was penalized.
Just 30 seconds into the second period, the U.S. moved the puck up ice beautifully for a 3-0 lead. Logan Brown sent it cross-ice to Yamamoto, who snapped it high to the glove side for his third goal.
"We had some good transitions from the D zone and I think our play in the offensive zone was pretty good," Yamamoto said.
At 8:26, playing shorthanded, Nazarovs zoomed down the right side and zinged a shot that tipped off the inside of U.S. captain Ryan Lindgren’s leg and fooled Oettinger to cut the deficit 3-1.
The American response was swift and uncompromising: three goals in just 1:09.
At 9:38, Walker put one through Rauza, who looked frustrated, and then Frederic scored top corner at 10:03.
Latvian coach Eriks Miluns pulled Rauza in favor of Gustavs Grigals. It didn’t make any difference.
Fox was allowed to waltz in unobstructed for the 6-1 goal at 10:47. According to USA Hockey, in the 6-1 win over Sweden, Fox became the single-season NTDP points leader among defenceman, including both regular season and U18 World Championship play.
The Latvians called their timeout and that didn’t make any difference either.
Yamamoto scored his fourth of the tournament at 6:31 of the second as he tried to feed it across the goal mouth and Grigals inadvertently knocked it into his own net with his blocker hand.
At 17:30, it was 8-1 when Pastujov walked in over the blueline, cut to the left and scored over Grigals’s glove.
In the third period, Keller made it 9-1 with a nice drag-and-drop move at 8:04. He then set up Bellows beautifully on a turnover for the tenth U.S. goal.
Penalties added up in the dying stages as Latvia's frustration with the lopsided score boiled over. Frederic added a power play tally at 15:24 to make it 11-1.
"From our side, I was OK with how things were going," said Cole. "I told guys: ‘Stay out of it. You don’t have to expose yourself and get run from behind. Protect yourself.’"
U.S. forward Graham McPhee was ejected with a five-minute major with 3:14 left for a high hit on Valters Apfelsbaums in the neutral zone.
Frederic's shorthanded goal on a breakaway at 18:44 rounded out the scoring at 12-1.
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