MINSK, Belarus - Justin Abdelkader (Muskegon, Mich./Detroit Red Wings/Michigan State Univ.) was named captain of the 2014 U.S. Men’s National Team here today. Team USA begins the 2014 International Ice Hockey Federation Men’s World Championship tonight (May 9) against Belarus, the host nation, at Minsk Arena.
Additionally, Craig Smith (Madison, Wis./Nashville Predators/Univ. of Wisconsin) will serve as an alternate captain. The second alternate captain role will be shared by Colin McDonald (Wethersfield, Conn./New York Islanders/Providence College) and Tim Stapleton (La Grange, Ill./AK Bars Kazan/Univ. of Minnesota Duluth). McDonald will wear an ‘A’ when the U.S. wears its white jerseys, while Stapleton will don an ‘A’ when the U.S. wears its blue jerseys.
Abdelkader previously skated for the U.S. Men’s National Team at the 2012 IIHF Men’s World Championship in Helsinki, Finland, and Stockholm, Sweden. He had a goal and three assists in that tournament. Abdelkader also played for the 2007 U.S. National Junior that earned the bronze medal in Leksand and Mora, Sweden.
Smith is making his fourth consecutive appearance on the U.S. Men’s National Team. A year ago, he had a team-best 10 assists and had 14 points overall en route to Team USA’s bronze-medal showing. Stapleton is a member of the U.S. Men’s National Team for the third time in four years (2011, 2013). He had two goals and three assists during the bronze-medal run in 2013. McDonald is making his debut on a U.S. National Team.
Team USA faces Belarus today at 1:45 p.m. EDT in the tournament opener for both teams. NBC Sports Network will televise the game live, while NBC Sports Live Extra will provide live streaming coverage.
RIGA, Latvia – Patrick O’Sullivan (Winston Salem, N.C./Houston Aeros), added to the 2006 U.S. Men’s National Team roster yesterday and arriving just four hours before the game tonight, scored the game-winner off a one-timer on a four-on-three man advantage 2:27 into the third period as Team USA downed host Latvia, 4-2, at the 2006 International Ice Hockey Federation World Championship. The game was played before a raucous crowd of 9,083 at Arena Riga.
The win guaranteed the United States a spot in the quarterfinal round regardless of how it fares Tuesday (May 16) in its final Qualification Round game against the Czech Republic.
“It was one of the most difficult environments I’ve ever been involved in,” said Mike Eaves, head coach of Team USA, referring to the deafening noise made by the Latvian crowd throughout the game, aided by use of horns, drums and other noisemakers. “It took our players a while to get used to it and adapt. We persevered though. I’m pleased with the victory and happy we’re moving on.
After a scoreless first period, Team USA got out to a 1-0 lead just 59 seconds into the second stanza when Ryan Malone (Pittsburgh, Pa./Pittsburgh Penguins/St. Cloud State University) deflected Mark Cullen’s (Moorhead, Minn./Chicago Blackhawks/Colorado College) shot from the left point high up into the air and over the head of Latvian netminder Sergejs Naumovs. Latvia answered just 1:13 later as Lauris Darzins took advantage of a U.S. turnover and spun around from the side of the right circle to fire one past netminder Craig Anderson (Park Ridge, Ill./Chicago Blackhawks). The Americans regained the lead at 14:39 when Dustin Brown (Ithaca, N.Y./Los Angeles Kings) banged home his own rebound with the United States up a man. It looked as though Team USA would take a two-goal lead less than 30 seconds later, but replays showed Mike Komisarek’s (West Islip, N.Y./Montreal Canadiens/University of Michigan) blast from the top of the left circle rang off both posts.
Latvia tied the game just 1:00 into the third period when Aleksandrs Semjonovs beat Anderson to the glove side from 12-feet out. Just 1:27 later, O’Sullivan scored what proved to be the game-winner off a nice feed from Cullen. Defenseman Ryan Suter(Madison, Wis./Nashville Predators/University of Wisconsin) added an insurance goal for Team USA at 9:50 when he blasted one through the legs of Naumovs from the left dot on the power play.
Anderson picked up the win in goal for Team USA with 22 saves while Naumovs had 23 stops in the loss.
Team USA has two days off before facing the Czech Republic Tuesday (May 16) in the final qualification-round game for both teams. Opening faceoff is set for 3:15 p.m. local time (8:15 a.m. EDT) at Arena Riga.
NOTES: Team USA had a big night on special teams. The U.S. power play connected on three-of-nine opportunities, while the Americans killed off nine of 10 Latvian power-play attempts … Catherine Todd Bailey, the U.S. ambassador to Latvia, attended tonight’s game … Brown had a power-play goal tonight. He has four goals in the World Championship, all on the power play.
LAT 0-1-1 -- 2
USA 0-2-2 -- 4
First Period – Scoring: None. Penalties: LAT, Daugavins (high-sticking), 0:48; Semjonovs (high-sticking), 3:33; Semjonovs (high-sticking), 3:33; USA, Bench (too many players), 7:10; USA, Gill (cross-checking), 9:24; USA, Malone (boarding), 11:24; USA, Gill (cross-checking), 12:54; LAT, Saviels (holding), 18:54.
Second Period – Scoring: 1, USA, Malone (Cullen, Brown), 0:59; 2, LAT, Darzins (unassisted), 2:12; 3, USA, Brown (Kessel), 14:39 (pp). Penalties: USA, Brown (charging), 3:57; USA, Brown (cross-checking), 6:57; LAT, Pujacs (tripping), 13:04; USA, Gill (holding), 16:59; LAT, Saviels (interference), 17:36; LAT, Galvins (hooking), 19:00; USA, Brown (interference), 19:15.
Third Period – Scoring: 4, LAT, Semjonovs (Daugavins), 1:00 (pp); 5, USA, O’Sullivan (Cullen), 2:27 (pp); USA, Suter (unassisted), 9:50 (pp). Penalties: USA, Gill (high-sticking), 0:38; LAT, Tambijevs (slashing), 0:38; USA, Kessel (roughing), 1:30; LAT, Pujacs (roughing), 1:30; LAT, Darzins (high-sticking), 2:11; USA, Meyer (tripping), 7:40; LAT, Nizivijs (holding), 9:25; USA, Brown (charging), 10:32.
Shots By Period 1 2 3 Total
LAT 7 8 9 24
USA 11 10 6 27
Goaltending (SH-SV) 1 2 3 Total
LAT, Naumovs, 60:00 11-11 10-8 6-4 27-23
USA, Anderson, 60:00 7-7 8-7 9-8 24-22
Power Play: LAT 1-10, USA 3-9
Penalties: LAT 11-22, USA 12-24
Officials: Referee-Peter Jonak; Linesmen-Milan Novak, Leo Takula