Saturday, December 26, 2009

USA Beats Slovakia; Stepan Named Captain

Last night team USA defeated Slovakia 7-3 in their opening game of the U20 World Junior Championship being held north of the border in Saskatchewan, Canada. Team USA got down early 2-0 after multiple penalties but rallied for a big win.

"I was happy with our resiliency after falling behind early," said Dean Blais, head coach of the U.S. National Junior Team. "We created a lot of scoring chances, and showed a lot of poise after those two quick goals."

Wisconsin Badger Derek Stepan had a big night. First he was named Captain and then went out and had a hand in three of the seven US goals. Stepan had an assist on Team USA's first goal by John Carlson, added a goal of his own in the second, and had a beautiful assist on a goal by Danny Kristo later in the period. He was also tied for a team best +4 on the night. John Ramage and Jake Gardiner were held scoreless in the opener but it sounds as if Ramage made a nice play on Kristo's goal (a goal Stepan had an assist), and probably should have been awarded an assist.

Here is NHL.com's description of the goals scored with Badger players involved:

Team USA's first goal-"Derek Stepan wins an offensive-zone draw back to John Carlson, and he blasts a shot from the right point through traffic at 9:34. U.S. still trails 2-1."

Team USA's third goal-"Great puck movement around the perimeter. Derek Stepan gets the pass above the circles in the middle, wires a wrister over Ciliak's glove at 5:39 to put the U.S. up 3-2."

Team USA's fifth goal-"Great play John Ramage to hold the puck in at the point. Derek Stepan grabs the puck and makes a fabulous pass to a cutting Danny Kristo and he chips the puck past Ciliak to make it 5-3."

Here were the lines from last night:

29 Jerry D'Amigo -21 Derek Stepan (C) - 8 Danny Kristo
23 Kyle Palmieri - 17 Ryan Bourque - 19 Jordan Schroeder (A)
22 A.J. Jenks - 20 Chris Kreider - 26 Jeremy Morin
16 Jason Zucker - 9 Philip McRae - 10 Tyler Johnson
14 Luke Walker

Defensemen
5 David Warsofsky - 11 John Carlson (A)
24 Cam Fowler - 18 Brian Lashoff
28 Jake Gardiner - 2 John Ramage
4 Matt Donovan

Goaltenders
30 Mike Lee
1 Jack Campbell

Team USA will take on Switzerland Sunday at 3PM Central Time. The game can be seen live on NHL network in the United States.