Providence’s Jon Gillies made 23 saves to help the United States open its world junior title defense with a 5-1 victory over the Czech Republic on Thursday in Malmo, Sweden.
Miami of Ohio’s Riley Barber, Denver’s Will Butcher, the Gophers’ Hudson Fasching, Colorado College’s Jaccob Slavin and Notre Dame’s Vince Hinostroza scored for the United States.
“When you get the two power-play goals to begin the game and can play with the lead it’s much, much easier to play the game,” said coach Don Lucia of the Gophers. “Our defense did a good job breaking us out and Jon Gillies was there when we needed him.”
Barber and Butcher scored power-play goals in a 41-second span early in the first period.
Michal Plutnar had a third-period goal for the Czech Republic.
In the other Group A game, Anthony Mantha scored three goals in Canada’s 7-2 victory over Germany. Josh Anderson, Bo Horvat, Sam Reinhart, Nic Petan added goals for Canada.
The U.S. will play Slovakia on Saturday, Germany on Sunday, and finish group play Tuesday against Canada.
In Group B, Sweden beat Switzerland 5-3, and Russia routed Norway 11-0.