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Team USA Defeats Belarus In U18s Opener

Spisska Nova Ves, Slovakia – The U.S. National Under-18 Team scored seven goals in a 7-0 shutout against Belarus to open its preliminary round games at the 2017 IIHF Under-18 Men’s World Championship on Thursday afternoon at ZS Spisska Nova Ves.

Oliver Wahlstrom (Quincy, Mass.) tallied twice in the game while Dylan St. Cyr (Northville, Mich.) stopped all 17 shots he faced to earn the shutout.

U.S. head coach John Wroblewski (Neenah, Wis.) spoke about the grind of the tournament and preparing for Team USA’s next opponent.

“You have to be mindful of the player’s energy with so many games in such a short amount of time,” said Wroblewski. “We are going to take some things from this game but Russia will give us a different look and we will need to be strategic to get pucks behind them.”

Team USA killed all three Belarus power plays in the first period, while registering two short-handed scoring chances. The two teams remained scoreless into the first intermission.

Michael Pastujov (Bradenton, Fla.) opened the scoring for Team USA early in the second period when he pounced on a rebound off an Evan Barratt (Bristol, Pa.) wrist shot. Max Gildon (Plano, Texas) also picked up an assist after circling the net and firing a cross-crease pass to Barratt.

Scott Reedy (Prior Lake, Minn.) widened the U.S. lead to two just 42 seconds later when he drifted into the low slot and one-timed a backhand pass from Joel Farabee (Cicero, N.Y.) short-side past Belarus goaltender Andrei Grishenko. Nate Knoepke (Farmington, Minn.) also earned an assist on the play.

Wahlstrom notched his first goal of the afternoon at the 7:50 mark of the second period after firing a one-timer off a cross-crease feed from Brady Tkachuk (St. Louis, Mo.). Tyler Inamoto (Barrington, Ill.) also picked up an assist after threading a pass to Tkachuk as he crossed the blue line.

Sean Dhooghe (Aurora, Ill.) added a shorthanded tally at the 13:00 mark when he buried a loose puck in front following a power move by Farabee. Knoepke earned his second assist of the game on the play.

Wahlstrom ended Team USA’s scoring in the second period after knocking a puck out of the air and past Grishenko. Josh Norris (Oxford, Mich.) picked up an assist after firing the puck high and wide to cause the carom to Wahlstrom. Grant Mismash (Edina, Minn.) picked up the secondary assist after digging the puck out of a scrum and sending a pass to Norris.

Mismash earned his second point of the night when he opened the third period scoring at the 2:34 mark. Barratt and Inamoto earned their second assists of the night on the goal.

David Farrance (Victor, N.Y.) capped the scoring for Team USA at the 4:55 mark of the third period when he drifted to the slot and wristed a shot past Grishenko. Ryan Poehling (Lakeville, Minn.) and Reedy picked up assists on the goal.

Team USA plays its next preliminary game against Russia on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. local (9:30 a.m. ET). The game can be seen live on NHL Network.

NOTES: Full recap, highlights, interviews and box score can be found here … The U.S. outshot Belarus 51-17 … Team USA did not receive a power play while they killed off all four Belarus man advantages … Evan Barratt and Josh Norris combined for 24 faceoff wins … Nate Knoepke earned a +5 rating in the game … 13 different players recorded a point while seven even players recorded multi-point games … The game marks the first IIHF U18 Men’s World’s victory for head coach John Wroblewski … Team USA now holds an all-time record of 7-0-0-0-1 (W-OTW-OTL-L-T) against Belarus. Team USA has now outscored Belarus 61-8 all-time … The U.S. is now 57-0-1-15-1 in preliminary games … For complete tournament information, visit the IIHF website. Team USA News, interviews, highlights and more can be found on the Team USA website … Follow @USAHockey on Twitter for live scoring updates during the tournament. Scores will be designated with the #U18Worlds tag … For additional coverage, visit the USA Hockey Facebook page and Instagram account.

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