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Olympic hockey notebook: No NHLers, no problem to start Olympics for U.S., Canadian men

UND's Corban Knight nabbed an assist for Canada, while Jake Sanderson expected to arrive today.

Ice Hockey - Men's Prelim. Round - Group A - Canada v Germany
Jordan Weal of Canada celebrates his goal with former UND forwards Corban Knight and Adam Tambellini at the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, China. Canada beat Germany 5-1 on Thursday morning.
Jonathan Ernst / Reuters
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GRAND FORKS — No NHLers, no problem to start the Olympic Games for the American and Canadian men's teams.

The U.S. routed China 8-0 in its opener Thursday morning, while Canada handled Germany 5-1 in Beijing.

Current college players starred for the Americans, scoring seven of their eight goals. Harvard's Sean Farrell scored three goals and five points, while Michigan's Brendan Brisson, Minnesota Duluth's Noah Cates, Minnesota's Ben Meyers and Michigan's Matty Beniers also scored.

The lone goal not scored by a current collegian was from former Yale forward Brian O'Neill.

Boston University sophomore Drew Commesso earned the start in net and stopped all 29 China shots.

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In 2018, the U.S. used just three active college players in the PyeongChang Games, but those three — Harvard's Ryan Donato, Denver's Troy Terry and Boston University's Jordan Greenway — accounted for more than 50 percent of USA's offense.

Taking that into consideration, the U.S. went heavy on active NCAA players this time around and it paid off in the opener.

UND sophomore defenseman Jake Sanderson was expected to land in Beijing soon after the conclusion of the USA-China game. It has not yet been decided whether he will play in USA's second game against Canada at 10:10 p.m. Friday night.

Sanderson was a late arrival after testing positive for COVID-19 before leaving the United States.

Knight gets on the scoresheet

The Canadians also rolled in their opener, building a 3-0 lead in the opening 10:19 of the first period against Germany, the 2018 silver medalists.

Former UND forwards Corban Knight and Adam Tambellini assisted on Canada's fifth goal, which was scored by Jordan Weal.

It was the first Olympic point for Knight, who played at UND from 2009-13 and was a Hobey Baker Award finalist as a senior. Knight played 15:13, skating on the right wing of Canada's second line.

Two of Canada's goals were scored by ex-college players — former Wisconsin forward Ben Street and former New Hampshire forward Daniel Winnik both scored in the first period.

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The Americans and Canadians play at 10:10 p.m. Central on Friday night, the first Olympic men's meeting between the rivals since the 2014 semifinals in Sochi, Russia. Canada won that game 1-0 and went on to win gold.

They both close pool play at 7:10 a.m. Sunday. The U.S. finishes with Germany and the Canadians play China.

Olympics: Ice Hockey-Men Group A - USA-CHN
United States forward Sean Farrell (26) celebrates teammates after scoring a goal against Team China during the third period during the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games at National Indoor Stadium.
George Walker IV / USA Today Sports

Roseau's Ness gets an 'A'

Former Roseau High star Aaron Ness is wearing an 'A' as an alternate captain for Team USA.

Ness, who spent three years at Minnesota and currently plays for the Providence Bruins in the American Hockey League, has worn a letter in the past.

Ness served as an alternate captain in high school for Roseau, in college for Minnesota and wore the 'C' for the Bridgeport Sound Tigers in the AHL.

USA's captain is former Miami RedHawk Andy Miele, winner of the 2011 Hobey Baker Award. Its alternate captains are Ness, former Michigan defenseman Steven Kampfer and Cates.

Ice Hockey - Men's Prelim. Round - Group A - United States v China
Roseau's Aaron Ness defends around the U.S. net during the opening game of the 2022 Winter Olympics for the Americans. The U.S. beat China 8-0.
Annegret Hilse / Reuters

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COVID-19 keeps Curl from Olympics

Former Bismarck Blizzard star Britta Curl was one of Team USA's final cuts.

But after American forward Brianna Decker suffered a tournament-ending injury in USA's opener, USA Hockey called Curl and asked her to join the team in Beijing as a roster replacement for Decker.

Curl, however, tested positive for COVID-19 in Los Angeles and will not be out of quarantine in time to participate.

The American women play Czechia at 10:10 p.m. Thursday in the quarterfinals.

READ MORE OLYMPICS COVERAGE
The Fighting Hawks blue liner is back from the 2022 Winter Olympics and awaiting a return to the lineup.

Quick hits

  • Former UND goalie Matej Tomek did not dress for Slovakia, which lost its opener to Finland 6-2.
  • NCHC referee Stephen Reneau officiated the Finland-Slovakia game Thursday morning. Reneau is not officiating NCHC games this season, but is still listed on its roster of referees.
Schlossman has covered college hockey for the Grand Forks Herald since 2005. He has been recognized by the Associated Press Sports Editors as the top beat writer for the Herald's circulation division four times and the North Dakota sportswriter of the year once. He resides in Grand Forks. Reach him at bschlossman@gfherald.com.
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