Compiled by MiCHO Staff
The 2008 U.S. National Junior Team netted two power-play goals and recorded a 37-14 shots advantage to secure a 4-2 win over Western Michigan University in an exhibition game Tuesday night at Lawson Arena.
"Tonight was a very good test for us," said John Hynes, head coach of the U.S. National Junior Team. "Western Michigan challenged us physically and several of our breakdowns cost us. The reason we play these games is to learn lessons that will help us to be prepared to win the World Junior Championship."
Team USA carried the play for much of the opening period, and was rewarded with two goals in the final four minutes of the stanza. Kyle Okposo put the U.S. ahead, 1-0, with a power-play goal at the 16:55 mark with assists going to Jamie McBain and Cade Fairchild. McBain set up the play by sending a pass from the right circle over to Okposo in the slot. Okposo then wristed a low shot through the legs of WMU goaltender Riley Gill.
Ryan Flynn buried a shot from the left of the Bronco net with 1:53 left in the period with Blake Geoffrion and Colin Wilson drawing assists on the play.
Western Michigan got on the board at 8:11 of the second frame when Max Campbell flipped a shot from the slot up high past Team USA netminder Jeremy Smith (Plymouth Whalers - OHL) on the glove side.
Both teams switched goaltenders with 8:24 left in the middle session. Joe Palmer came in for Team USA and Jerry Kuhn was sent to the Broncos net.
The U.S. National Junior Team opened up a 3-1 lead with a man advantage at 13:34 as McBain scored on a 2-on-1 break. After receiving a pass on the right wing from Matt Rust (Michigan), McBain used a WMU defender as a screen to slide the puck through the legs of Kuhn.
Campbell tallied his second marker of the evening 1:24 later to bring the Broncos within one when his shot from the left circle that whistled by Palmer's left shoulder.
Mike Carman provided Team USA with a two-goal cushion with 2:58 left in the game. Rhett Rakhshani took a shot from the right circle that handcuffed Kuhn. Carman was able to slip the rebound into the back of the net. Bobby Sanguinetti was credited with the second assist on the play.
"It's a tremendous opportunity for our program and the community at large. The guys next door wearing the stars and stripes are selected to represent our country over at the World Juniors and that's the elite young players that we're up against," WMU head coach Jim Culhane said."Our guys worked extremely hard and battled. Obviously, the shots are two to one in their favor, but I don't think you can fault our effort and determination throughout the hockey game."
Smith and Palmer combined to make 12 saves for Team USA.
Kuhn took the loss, surrendering two goals in 25:55 of play. Gill and Smith each saw 31:08 of action. Matt Federico made two saves in 2:57 late in the third period. Team USA was 2-for-3 on the power-play while holding Western Michigan scoreless in two opportunities.
The U.S. National Junior Team will play one more exhibition game - on Saturday against the Czech Republic in Ceska Trebova, Czech Republic - prior to the 2008 International Ice Hockey Federation World Junior Championship in Pardubice and Liberec, Czech Republic, Dec. 26-Jan. 5.
WMU breaks for the holidays before returning to action Dec. 29-30 when it travels to Vermont for the Catamount Cup. The Broncos will face Quinnipiac at 4:05 p.m. on Dec. 29, then will face either Holy Cross or the host Catamounts the following day.