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US beats Finland at hockey worlds; Swiss, Swedes also win

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Associated Press
5/8/2013 7:01:40 PM
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HELSINKI, Finland -- Craig Smith had a hat trick and teenager John Gibson was stellar in net to lead the United States over host Finland 4-1 at the ice hockey world championship on Wednesday.

Gibson, who finished with 31 saves, was a bold choice which paid off for the Americans, who moved above Finland in their group -- second to Russia.

Though the 19-year-old has primarily played junior league hockey in Canada, he's a three-time world age-group champion. He's won titles in the under-17 classification, under-18, and at this year's juniors in Russia, where he was named the most valuable player and best goalie.

In other matchups, Switzerland won its fourth straight game, beating Slovenia 7-1; Sweden stuffed Norway 5-1; and Germany posted its first win, 2-0 over Austria.

Smith's first goal evened the score toward the end of the first period when he received a pinpoint pass to the far post from David Moss, who teams on the Americans' first line with Paul Stastny. Moss and Stastny each had two assists.

The U.S. was pinned in its own end for most of the period, and it looked as if it was still affected by a hard fought loss the night before to reigning champion Russia. But in the second period, the Americans continued to get their legs back and played more aggressively.

Smith used smart screening by Moss to make it 2-1 at 3:22 of the third period before Stephen Gionta added the third goal at 11:29, gathering the puck in the neutral zone as Juhamatti Aaltonen, the lively Finnish forward, turned it over. Before that, Gibson made a save on a breakaway by Sakari Salminen.

"He played an unbelievable game," said Smith said. "Gibson is quite mature for his age. He stepped up when he was needed, and took a big win. We are all happy for him."

Smith took a pass from Stastny in the last minute and closed the scoring with an empty-netter.

The Swiss made their point with three goals in each of the first two periods against Slovenia. Denis Hollenstein had two goals and two assists, Simon Bodenmann and Luca Cunti each added a goal and two assists, and Andres Ambuhl and Reto Suri had a goal and an assist apiece.

Sweden started well in the third period, scoring three goals against Norway and outshooting its neighbour 48-21. Gabriel Landeskog scored twice for Sweden, which plays unbeaten Canada on Thursday. Louie Eriksson, Andreas Jamtin and Elias Falth also scored.

Both of Germany's goals against Austria were by forward Markus Kink. Rob Zepp earned the shutout with 27 saves, 24 of them over the first two periods.

Craig Smith and Paul Stastny  (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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