U.S. beats Norway 3-1 in opener
RIGA, Latvia -- Dustin Brown scored three power-play goals Friday, leading the United States past Norway 3-1 in the opening game of the World Ice Hockey Championship.
"This is my first hat trick at this level," Brown said. "When I was younger -- 15, 16 years old -- I used to do it over in Europe."
Finland scored two late goals to beat Slovenia 5-3 in its opening Group A game.
The United States next plays Denmark in the preliminary round. The last time they met in a 2003 tournament in Finland, the Scandinavians upset the Americans 5-2.
In other games, 18-year-old Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins scored two goals for Canada in its 5-3 victory over Denmark in a Group D matchup, and the defending champion Czech Republic managed only a 1-1 tie against host Latvia.
Tommy Jakobsen scored the only goal for Norway, a newcomer in hockey's elite pool, midway through the first period with the Americans playing shorthanded.
Brown, a 21-year-old forward with the Los Angeles Kings, tied the game at 1:21 in the second session.
He gave the Americans the lead for the first time at 5:42 in the third period, beating Norway goalie Pal Grotnes with a shot from the right circle. The puck went between Grotnes' pads and trickled over the goal line.
Ten minutes later, Brown fired a wrist shot past Grotnes to complete the scoring. On the last two goals, Mats Trygg was serving penalties for Norway.
"We struggled in the first, got together in the second and played really strong in the third," Brown said. "It was a good win."
The Americans, who outshot Norway 31-21, have only been in Europe for five days, playing one exhibition game.
"It's tough to come and play, not only get to know the players you're playing with," Brown said. "Everyone is coming in playing different systems."
Some penalties were questionable.
"There were some calls out there that wouldn't be called with the new NHL rules," Brown said. "North American teams seem to have a harder time to adjust to it. But it's something that we have to deal with and address. You kind of prepare yourself for it."
The bigger rink caused no problems for Brown.
"I have played on it before," he said. "You have a lot more room to do stuff out there, lot more offense. NHL rinks are small compared to this one. You have all the time in the world."
The biggest cheers were reserved for the host nation.
With Latvian president Vaira Vike-Freiberga in attendance and his country's jersey, forward Aleksejs Sirokovs sent the sellout crowd of 10,300 into a screaming frenzy when his soft wrist shot squirted through Czech Republic goalie Milan Hnilicka's pads at 6:22 in the first.
After a single round-robin series in each of the four groups, the top three teams from each pool advance to the qualification round. That round consists of two groups with six teams each.
The championship game is May 20.
Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press