The 2017 IIHF World Junior Championship began on Monday with Team USA defeating Latvia, 6-1.
UConn’s Tage Thompson had two assists and was part of the most productive line for the Americans. One line-mate, Clayton Keller, had two goals with Colin White notching a goal and an assist on the all-Hockey East line.
The Americans dominated from start to finish, with the only goal for Latvia coming mid-change when a pass from behind the goal line made it out of the USA offensive zone and Latvia converted to tie the game at the 15:22 mark in the first period.
White’s goal and Thompson’s first assist put Team USA up for good. On the rush into the zone, Thompson made a nice move around the defender and dished it to White, who made it 2-1.
The turning point came early in the second period when Thompson and Jack Roslovic took slashing penalties just 36 seconds apart. Latvia had 1:24 of five-on-three time but could not get any shots on goal.
Keller got his second goal with 1:15 left in the middle stanza assisted by White and Thompson and that set up a phenomenal third period for the United States.
The Americans scored three times in the third period, including Keller’s second goal. Thompson didn’t get a point, but he was involved.
On a line change, Tage was able to hold the puck in the zone three against one for a while until Keller could take the puck right after he turned it over. Keller took a great shot and scored unassisted to make it a 4-1 lead with 7:41 remaining. Two more late goals sealed it.
Thompson played well, he had two points, played on the first line, and almost got a goal himself in the first period if not for a nice poke check by a trailing Latvian defender.
Team USA gets back at it against UConn goaltender Adam Huska’s Team Slovakia on December 28. Puck drop is at 7:30 p.m. Eastern time.