The USA started strong on its quest to repeat as gold medalists as the IIHF World Junior Championship [WJC] in Malmo, Sweden.
Riley Barber, a Washington native and club captain, scored in a 5-1 win over the Czech Republic on Thursday. Barber was one of four Western Pennsylvanians on the USA’s WJC squad.
Barber said it’s “always good” when the captain can score his club’s first goal. He is trying to lead by example and learn from leaders from the 2013 American squad.
“The thing I really learned last year is that Everybody is a great player, that’s why they’re here,” Barber said. “My job is to lead by example, set the tone in the dressing room. Before this game, I just went out and told the guys that this is our biggest game.”
The Americans will play Slovakia in its next Group A game on Saturday.
The Penguins have two prospects participating at the WJC: defenseman Derrick Pouliot (Canada) and right winger Oskar Sundqvist (Sweden).
Pouliot registered two assists in Canada’s 7-2 win over German in those squads’ Group A opener.
Sundqvist had a goal in Sweden’s 5-3 win over Switzerland in Group B.
Stay up with the 2014 WJC here: http://www.worldjunior2014.com/en/
All USA games are broadcast on NHL Network, with Pittsburgh’s own Steve Mears on the call. The game against Slovakia will air at 7:30 a.m. on Saturday.
>> The Penguins are OFF today, their final day away because of the NHL’s Christmas Break. They play at Carolina on Friday night, and several regulars could return.
Defenseman Brooks Orpik (concussion) and winger Tanner Glass (hand) have targeted this game to play after lengthy absences – eight games for Orpik, 15 for Glass.
Also, it is possible that defenseman Rob Scuderi (ankle) and center Evgeni Malkin (left leg) could play – though their returns were less certain as of Monday, when the Penguins’ seven-game winning streak was snapped at Ottawa.
The Penguins (27-11-1, 55 points) lead the Eastern Conference despite playing the last five weeks with no fewer than five AHL regulars in the lineup for every game.
Right winger Pascal Dupuis (right leg) is not expected to play at Carolina. He was to be re-evaluated in Pittsburgh over the Christmas break after his leg buckled during an accidental collision with captain Sidney Crosby on Monday night.
The Penguins feared ligament damage, but coach Dan Bylsma said his hope was that Dupuis’ injury was “not severe.”
Hoping you had a Happy Christmas (even if there is a new Doctor).
Be EXCELLENT to each other,