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U.S. Downs Finland, 5-1, in IIHF Men's Worlds Opener

05/01/2015, 12:30pm EDT
By USAHockey.com

Hendricks Nets Two; Hellebuyck Makes 29 Saves

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 to a 5-1 victory over Finland in the opening game for both teams of the 2015 IIHF 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 play, it was Team USA that scored the only goal and it came with just 23.9 seconds left in the first 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 Nashville Predators goalie.

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.”

“For me it was the desperation in us, our goaltender made some saves, but we had some big blocked shots, we had guys battling and competing for space and getting sticks on pucks.” Richards said about the team effort. “It was everyone.  The will and the want was there.

“Our group has skill and we can make plays, but I think we have other things that go with it like our competitiveness and work ethic."

Team USA continues play at the IIHF 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 televised on NBCSN on a same-day delayed basis at approximately 11 p.m. ET.



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2015 Results

Date Opponent Time (Local/ET)/Result
April 28 Austria (ex.) W, 4-1
May 1 Finland W, 5-1
May 2 Norway W, 2-1
May 4 Russia W, 4-2
May 7 Belarus L, 2-5
May 8 Denmark W, 1-0
May 10 Slovenia W, 3-1
May 12 Slovakia W, 5-4 OT
May 14 Switzerland
Quarterfinals
W, 3-1
May 16 Russia
Semifinals
L, 0-4
May 17 Czech Republic
Bronze Medal Game
W, 3-0

Game Day: USA vs. Finland


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Team USA Set For Finland

OSTRAVA, Czech Republic -- The U.S. Men's National Team is set to open play in the 79th annual International Ice Hockey Federation Men's World Hockey Championship here today against Finland. Opening faceoff is slated for 4:15 p.m. local time/10:15 a.m. ET and the game can be seen live in the U.S. on NBCSN.

Connor Hellebuyck, who was the back-up to Tim Thomas at last year's world championship, is expected to get the call in goal today for Team USA. He spent the 2014-15 campaign as the top netminder for St. John's in the American Hockey League and was the starting goaltender for the East in the AHL All-Star Game.

Forward Matt Hendricks has been named captain of Team USA. He is playing on his first-ever U.S. national team and at 33 is the oldest member of the U.S. team. Forward Trevor Lewis and defenseman Justin Faulk are the alternate captains.

2015 Results

Date Opponent Time (Local/ET)/Result
April 28 Austria (ex.) W, 4-1
May 1 Finland W, 5-1
May 2 Norway W, 2-1
May 4 Russia W, 4-2
May 7 Belarus L, 2-5
May 8 Denmark W, 1-0
May 10 Slovenia W, 3-1
May 12 Slovakia W, 5-4 OT
May 14 Switzerland
Quarterfinals
W, 3-1
May 16 Russia
Semifinals
L, 0-4
May 17 Czech Republic
Bronze Medal Game
W, 3-0

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