BUFFALO, N.Y. – Casey Mittelstadt and Kieffer Bellows each scored two goals, Joseph Woll made 17 saves and the United States began its title defense at the world junior hockey championship with a 9-0 victory over Denmark on Tuesday night.
In other preliminary-round games, the Czech Republic upset Russia 5-4, Sweden beat Belarus 6-1 and Canada held on for a 4-2 win over Finland.
Max Jones, Kailer Yamamoto of the Spokane Chiefs, Patrick Harper, Andrew Peeke and Dylan Samberg also scored for the U.S., which had three goals in the first nine minutes.
Mittelstadt, the most recent first-round draft choice for the Buffalo Sabres, scored his second goal to make it 5-0 late in the first period.
U.S. coach Bob Motzko remained undefeated in the world junior championships.
After winning last year’s tournament in Montreal, the U.S. is seeking back-to-back gold medals for the first time. Denmark placed fifth last year, its highest finish in history.
In the most competitive game of the day, Filip Zadina and Filip Chytil scored second-period goals for the Czech Republic in a stunning 5-4 victory over Russia in the opening game.
Russia has medaled at the past seven world juniors while the Czech Republic has not reached the medal round since 2005. This was the Czech Republic’s second victory in its past 12 meetings with Russia.
Martin Necas, Filip Kral and Ostap Safin also scored for the Czech Republic, and Martin Kaut had three assists. Josef Korenar made 34 saves.
Zadina and Chytil scored to give the Czech Republic a 4-2 lead late in the second period. Filip Kraul scored the Czech Republic’s fifth goal 6:16 into the third period.
Artur Kayumov and Vladislav Syomin scored late in the third period for Russia. Marsel Sholokhov and Alexei Polodyan scored in the first period.
Also Tuesday, Boris Katchouk had a goal and an assist as Canada beat Finland 4-2.
Katchouk’s linemate Taylor Raddysh scored and added an assist for Canada, while Drake Batherson had the eventual winner and Sam Steel scored a goal.
Carter Hart made 29 saves for the win.
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