Americans cruise in preliminary round

Updated: December 29, 2010, 12:07 AM ET
Associated Press

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Minus two injured forwards, Kyle Palmieri and the U.S. team couldn't afford to get off to a slow start against Slovakia at the world junior championship tournament on Tuesday night.

They didn't and cruised to an easy 6-1 victory.

Palmieri scored goals 3:31 apart during a first-period outburst in which the Americans were up 2-0 before the Slovaks got their first shot. He then added an assist in a game the U.S. outshot Slovakia 57-18 and showed no effects of playing without top scoring threat Jeremy Morin and Brock Nelson, who are listed as day to day with undisclosed injuries.

"That felt good," Palmieri said. "We were kind of shaken up because of the injuries, but I think we know we needed to get out there and have a good start. And that went a long way in this game."

Charlie Coyle had a goal and two assists while goalie Jack Campbell had a relatively easy night, stopping 17. Chris Brown, Drew Shore and Emerson Etem also scored as the Americans built a 4-0 lead on 35 shots less than 12 minutes into the second period.

The U.S. is coming off a tournament-opening 3-2 overtime win over Finland and took over first place in the Group A pool with five points with two games left.

"I don't know if being minus the guys makes a difference," coach Keith Allain said. "We want to get off to a fast start all the time, particularly playing a tired team. We didn't want them to feel like they could be in it."

Tomas Jurco scored for Slovakia, which was coming off a 2-1 overtime win over Germany a day earlier.

In other preliminary-round games Tuesday, Brayden Schenn had a goal and four assists in leading Canada (2-0) to a 7-2 win over the Czech Republic (1-1). Sweden (2-0) kept pace with Canada atop the Group B standings by riding Robin Lehner's 30-save effort in a 2-0 win over Russia (0-2).

Joni Ortio stopped 15 shots in Finland's 4-0 win over Switzerland (1-1). Finland moved into second place in the Group A standings with four points.

Allain had no update on his injured players and described himself as "extremely disturbed" with how chippy the game against the Slovaks became and after watching two of his players knocked to the ice by hits to the head.

Slovakia's Peter Hrasko, in the first period, and Martin Marincin, in the third, were both issued match penalties and ejected for hits to the head. Both will automatically miss the team's next game against Switzerland on Thursday.

Hrasko was ejected after getting his shoulder up in hitting Jerry D'Amigo along the boards in the Slovak zone. Marincin was ejected with less than eight minutes left, when he elbowed Jason Zucker to the face.

"It was a vicious, dirty hit," Allain said, referring to Marincin's hit, which came in retaliation after Zucker checked a Slovak player in the corner.

D'Amigo returned to play, while Zucker was woozy as he got up and had to be helped off the ice.

Slovak forward Marek Hrivik said his team didn't have a chance after getting into penalty trouble. The U.S. converted 3-of-6 power-play chances.

"We wanted to stay with them 0-0 as long as possible, but we had so many penalties that it killed us," Hrivik said. "We didn't skate well, and they were fast. We just have to be faster and focused."

Palmieri opened the scoring at 4:31 by driving to the top of the crease, where he easily tapped in Coyle's centering pass. Chris Kreider started the play by forcing a turnover at center.

Palmieri then made it 2-0 during a five-minute power play after Hrasko was ejected. Coyle and Brown scored power-play goals eight minutes apart in the second period before Jurco converted Juraj Majdan's pass through the crease for Slovakia's goal.

Earlier in the day, Etem caused a local stir by posting a comment on his Twitter account, in which he called Buffalo "the worst city ever" and said that it makes Medicine Hat, Alberta, "look like paradise."

Etem, who plays for the Western Hockey League's Medicine Hat Tigers, later apologized by referring to it as "a poorly written tweet" and said that he didn't mean to put down a great city.

Etem was booed as the starting lineups were announced, booed each time he touched the puck and particularly booed when he was announced as scoring the game's sixth goal late in the second period.

Etem sure heard the fans, though said he was unaffected.

"It was loud, and you can definitely hear it," Etem said. "It's all fun. It's a hockey town, so it's expected. And I had a blast out there."


Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press

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