WJC 2014: Team USA 5 Czech Republic 1

The 2014 IIHF U20 World Junior Championships got underway in Malmo, Sweden today. The day after Christmas is always exciting for hockey fans. It’s a chance to track their favorite prospects.

Team USA defeated Czech Republic 5-1. They got the first four Daniel Dolejs en route to a comfortable four-goal win. Five different Americans scored including captain Riley Barber, Will Butcher, Hudson Fasching, Jacob Slavin and Vince Hinostroza. Barber and Butcher each tallied power play goals 41 seconds apart in the game’s first 2:02.

Michal Plutnar erased Jon Gillies’ shutout bid with a PPG at 5:47 of the third period. Devils prospect Stefan Matteau was in the box for a slash. He’s on loan from Albany and is participating in his first WJC. Ironically, he was named Player Of The Game. Hinostroza put it out of reach by converting a breakaway with 2:11 remaining. He beat Dolejs with a nice backhand deke upstairs.

Also taking part was defenseman Steven Santini. The big physical blueliner the Devils took in last year’s second round is in his freshman year at Boston College. In 13 games, he’s fared well posting two goals and four assists along with 36 penalty minutes.

Rangers’ defense prospect Brady Skjei is also on the back end. The 19-year old 2012 first rounder is in his sophomore year with Minnesota. He’s coming along nicely with two goals and three helpers with 16 PIM over 16 contests. A solid skater who’s good defensively, Skjei should be a big part of the Blueshirts’ future.

Team USA has three holdovers from last year’s championship roster. They feature Barber, Gillies (23 saves) and Blackhawks’ property Ryan Hartman (assist). Here’s a boxscore.

We’ll have more on the day’s action later.

About Derek Felix

Derek Felix is sports blogger whose previous experience included separate stints at ESPN as a stat researcher for NHL and WNBA telecasts. The Staten Island native also interned for or hockey historian Stan Fischler and worked behind the scenes for MSG as a production assistant on New Jersey Devil telecasts. An avid New York sports fan who enjoys covering events, writing, concerts, movies and the outdoors, Derek has covered consecutive Staten Island Yankees NY Penn League championships in '05 and '06. He also scored Berkeley Carroll high school basketball games from '06-14 and provided an outlet for the Park Slope school's student athletes. Hitting Back gives them the publicity they deserve. In his free time, he also attends Ranger games and is a loyal St. John's alum with a sports management degree. The Battle Of Hudson administrator and chief editor can be followed below on Twitter and Facebook.
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