USA, Canada get easy opening wins at World Junior Hockey Championships

Updated: December 26, 2007, 5:57 PM ET
Associated Press

LIBEREC, Czech Republic -- Kyle Okposo, the former Minnesota player set to sign with the New York Islanders, had a goal and an assist to help the United States open the World Junior Hockey Championships with a 5-1 victory over Kazakhstan on Wednesday.

Okposo, selected seventh overall in the NHL 2006 draft, left the Golden Gophers last week, and has begun negotiations with the Islanders on an entry-level contract.

Denver's Tyler Ruegsegger and New Hampshire's James vanRiemsdyk also each had a goal and assist, and Boston University's Colin Wilson and Minnesota's Mike Carman added goals. Jeremy Smith, who plays for Plymouth in the Ontario Hockey League, made 17 saves, allowing only Alexander Kurshuk's game-opening goal.

In the other Group B game, Russia beat Finland 7-4. In Group A play in Pardubice, John Tavares scored twice in three-time defending champion Canada's 3-0 victory over the Czech Republic, and Sweden beat Slovakia 4-3.

Matthew Halischuk also scored for Canada, Steve Stamkos had three assists, and Jonathan Bernier made 44 saves for the shutout.

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press