Home USA US Downs Finland In IIHF Men’s World Championships Opener

US Downs Finland In IIHF Men’s World Championships Opener

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OSTRAVA, Czech Republic – Captain Matt Hendricks (Blaine, Minn./Edmonton Oilers) scored twice and added an assist and goaltender Connor Hellebuyck (Commerce, Mich./St. John’s) made 29 saves to help the U.S. Men’s National Team earn a 5-1 victory over Finland in the opening game for both teams of the 2015 IIHF Men’s World Championship. The contest was played before a capacity crowd of 8,812 at CEZ Arena.
“Our goaltender was very good and made some keys saves for us at some important times in the game,” said Todd Richards, head coach of the 2015 U.S. Men’s National Team and also the bench boss of the NHL’s Columbus Blue Jackets. “The penalty kills in the first period were big for us and then we were opportunistic scoring some goals. We got better as the game went on and it was certainly a good start to the tournament for us against a very good Finland team.”

While Finland had some good opportunities during the first period, particularly on its two power plays, it was Team USA that scored the only goal of the stanza and it came with just 23.9 seconds left in the period. Steve Moses (Leominster, Mass.) roofed a backhander on the short side past Finnish goaltender Penna Rinne after receiving a perfectly timed drop pass from Brock Nelson (Warroad, Minn./NY Islanders). Torey Krug (Livonia, Mich./Boston Bruins) led the attack into the offensive zone and picked up an assist on the play.

“It feels good to get a goal right away and kind of do what you think you’re expected to,” said Moses, who scored 36 goals in 60 games for Jokerit in the KHL this season.

Finland outshot the U.S. 14-11 in the first period, but Hellebuyck was stellar in goal for Team USA.

The Finns tied the game at 5:40 of the second period on a slapshot from the center point by Jyrki Jokipakka with Hellebuyck screened in front.

The U.S. jumped back on top just over six minutes later when Dan Sexton (Apple Valley Minn.) stole the puck from a Finnish defenseman in the neutral zone and drove down the right wing alone on Rinne. While Rinne stopped his shot, Hendricks was there to tap in the rebound as the puck was sitting in the paint behind the Finland netminder.

Sexton increased the U.S. advantage to 3-1 nearly three minutes later beating Rinne from a tough angle with a screen from Hendricks in front. Krug picked up his second assist of the game on the play.

Nick Bonino (Hartford, Conn./Vancouver Canucks) put the U.S. up 4-1 six minutes into the third period when he finished off a Moses wrister from the top of the slot which had already trickled through Rinne’s pads and was likely heading across the goal line. Nelson, who arrived in Europe earlier in the day, circled the offensive zone before feeding Moses for his second assist.

“When we got the fourth in the third period that really helped us confidence-wise,” Richards said.

Hendricks added an empty net goal with 2:38 remaining to account for the 5-1 final.

“We want to be the hardest working team in the tournament,” said Hendricks, the 33-year-old U.S. captain. “That’s our goal, that’s our motto. We have skill and speed that will contribute to that and help us score goals, but we want to be the hardest working, hardest checking team here.”

Team USA continues play at the IIHF Men’s World Championship tomorrow (May 2) against Norway. Opening faceoff is set for 8:15 p.m. (2:15 p.m. ET) at CEZ Arena. The game will be streamed live in the U.S. via NBC Sports Live Extra and also televised on NBCSN on a same-day delayed basis beginning at approximately 11 p.m. ET.

NOTES: Steve Moses, who recorded a goal and an assist, was named the U.S. Player of the Game … Moses, Matt Hendricks (2-1–3), Dan Sexton (1-1–2), Brock Nelson (0-2–2) and Torey Krug (0-2–2) all recorded multiple-point games … The U.S. has won its opening game of the IIHF Men’s World Championship in each of the last five years and also in 10 of the last 11 tournaments … Team USA has won five of its last six meetings against Finland at the IIHF Men’s World Championship … Matt Hendricks led Team USA with five shots on goal. He was also +3 in the contest … Defenseman Justin Faulk, who played on the 2014 U.S. Olympic Men’s Ice Hockey Team, was +4 in the contest … Brock Nelson, Anders Lee and Jack Campbell arrived in Vienna today at approximately 8:30 a.m., took a car to Ostrava, and were in the lineup for today’s contest.
Team USA 2015 IIHF Men’s World Championship Schedule/Results
May 1-17 • Ostrava, Czech Republic

Date Opponent Venue
Time (Local/EDT)/Result

Tues., April 28 Austria (ex.) Eissportzentrum Kagran W, 4-1
Fri., May 1 Finland CEZ Arena W, 5-1
Sat., May 2 Norway CEZ Arena 8:15 p.m./2:15 p.m.
Mon., May 4 Russia CEZ Arena 4:15 p.m./10:15 a.m.
Thurs., May 7 Belarus CEZ Arena 4:15 p.m./10:15 a.m.
Fri., May 8 Denmark CEZ Arena 8:15 p.m./2:15 p.m.
Sun., May 10 Slovenia CEZ Arena 4:15 p.m./10:15 a.m.
Tues., May 12 Slovakia CEZ Arena 4:15 p.m./10:15 a.m.
Thurs., May 14 Quarterfinals TBD TBD
Sat., May 16 Semifinals O2 Arena TBD
Sun., May 17 Medal Round Game O2 Arena TBD
*Eissportzentrum Kagran in Vienna, Austria; CEZ Arena in Ostrava, Czech Republic; O2 Arena in Prague, Czech Republic.