Despite losses earlier in the tournament to Russia and Latvia, at the International Ice Hockey Federation World Men's Championships in Minsk, Belarus, the United States have rebounded nicely, especially after their 3-1 victory over Finland on Sunday. A major reason why the United States are in the hunt is because of the play of three of their youngsters.
Seth Jones of the Nashville Predators leads the American team with nine points and is an excellent +7. A 19 year-old defenseman from Arlington, Texas, Seth Jones is the son of former Toronto Raptors power forward Popeye Jones. Seth Jones was the fourth overall pick from the 2013 National Hockey League Entry Draft behind Nathan MacKinnon (Colorado), Alexander Barkov (Florida) and Jonathan Drouin (Tampa Bay).
Calder Trophy candidate Tyler Johnson of the Tampa Bay Lightning is the co-leader of the American team in goals with Brock Nelson of the New York Islanders with four goals apiece. On Sunday, Johnson, a 23 year old native of Spokane, Washington, recorded two third period goals in the American win over Finland including the game winning goal at 6:42 of the third period.
The third American youngster who is shining is Johnny Gaudreau of the Calgary Flames. Gaudreau, who just recently participated in the NCAA Frozen Four tournament, and was named the Hobey Baker Award winner before joining the Flames to end the regular season, is second on the American team with five assists and is fourth in scoring on the United States with six points.
Gaudreau, who had a goal and two assists for three points to open the tournament in a 6-1 victory over Belarus on May 9, registered his second multi-point game of the World Hockey Championship on Friday when he had two assists in a 4-3 win over Kazakhstan. At 20, Gaudreau is expected to be in the mix as an elite forward for the Flames and the United States internationally for years to come.
The United States are currently in second place in group B. With a record of three regulation wins, an overtime win and two losses, they have 11 points and four points behind first place Russia at 15 points. Their win on Sunday will go a long way toward clinching a quarterfinal berth as they are three points up on fifth place Finland. The Americans will close out their round robin schedule on Tuesday against Germany (TSN2, 3:45 a.m.).