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U.S. Men’s Hockey Team Evens World Championship Record At 1-1

By Craig Bohnert | May 07, 2016, 9:48 p.m. (ET)

Kyle Connor #18 takes to the ice during preliminary-round action at the 2016 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship on May 7, 2016 in St. Petersburg, Russia.

Auston Matthews scored two goals to lead the United States men’s ice hockey team to a 6-3 victory over Belarus Saturday evening, leveling its record at 1-1 in group play at the 2016 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship in St. Petersburg, Russia.

Matthews, who scored a goal for the U.S. in an exhibition game prior to last year’s world championships in the Czech Republic, tallied once in the second period, then stifled a late Belarus comeback attempt in the third period, notching the final goal of the game.

The U.S. jumped ahead early, getting a goal from former Boston College standout Miles Wood at 9:58 to take a 1-0 lead. Pressing an offensive attack that would give them an 11-3 advantage in shots in the first 20 minutes, the Americans doubled the score less than four minutes later when Chris Wideman of the Ottawa Senators found the net on a power play to make it 2-0 going into the first intermission.

The power play was the Americans’ friend again at the beginning of the second period when Dylan Larkin, a veteran of last year’s bronze-medal squad, scored the third unanswered U.S. goal at the 22:13 mark. Belarus pulled one back as Geoff Platt answered on a power play tally to make it 3-1 at 27:10. Less than a minute later Noah Hanifin responded with an equal-sided score, which was followed by Matthews’ first goal on a power play at 34:25, giving the U.S. a 5-1 lead. Andrei Stas tallied an unassisted goal for Belarus for a 5-2 score at the second break.

Backs against the wall, Belarus stepped up its attack in the third period. Dmitri Korobov took advantage of two U.S. players in the penalty box for a power-play goal at 49:28 to give Belarus a 5-3 score and some hope with just over 10 minutes remaining. Matthews slammed the door with his second goal of the game to put the U.S. back up by three, 6-3, with 5:15. The Americans had a 33-23 advantage in shots for the contest. Belarus was assessed 41 minutes in penalties, compared to only 18 against the U.S.

After a day of rest on Sunday, the U.S. will resume Group B play against Finland, which leads the group in the early going after defeating Belarus 6-2 in its opening match.