Russia beats US 5-3 in world junior hockey opener

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Finland’s Kasper Puutio (10), Mikko Kokkenen (35), Henri Nikkanen (28) and Mikael Pyyhtia (21) celebrate a goal against Germany during the second period of an IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship game in Edmonton, Alberta, Friday, Dec. 25, 2020. (Jason Franson/The Canadian Press via AP)

EDMONTON, Alberta (AP) — Vasili Ponomaryov scored twice and Russia beat the United States 5-3 on Friday night in their world junior hockey championship opener.

Ponomaryov, Zakhar Bardakov and Ilya Safonov scored in the second period to give Russia a 4-1 lead and chase U.S. goalie Spencer Knight. Knight allowed four goals on 12 shots before Dustin Wolf took over.

John Farinacci and Trevor Zegras scored in the third to cut it to 4-3, with Zegras connecting with 2:18 left. Yegor Chinakhov sealed it with an empty-netter with 21 seconds to play.

Cam York also scored for the United States in the Group B game.

Earlier in Group A, Finland beat short-handed Germany 5-3, and Slovakia edged Switzerland 1-0.

Missing nine players because of the coronavirus, Germany had only 14 skaters — nine forwards and five defensemen. Three players can return to the tournament Sunday and another five Tuesday, barring more positive tests.

Aku Raty, Henri Nikkanen, and Topi Niemela each had a goal and an assist for Finland, and Anton Lundell and Mikael Pyyhtia also scored. Tim Stutzle and Florian Elias each had a goal and assist for Germany, and Samuel Dube added a goal.

Slovakia won on Roman Faith’s goal with 5:43 left. Simon Latkoczy made 28 saves, stopping Inaki Baragano with his glove on a late power play.

On Saturday, the United States will face Austria, and Sweden will play the Czech Republic in Group B, and Canada will open its title defense against Germany in Group A.

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