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World Junior Championship: U.S. victory sets up a Canadian showdown

SASKATOON, Sask. -- The United States took care of business against Latvia on Tuesday afternoon, setting up a showdown between a pair of unbeaten rivals at the World Junior Championship.

SASKATOON, Sask. -- The United States took care of business against Latvia on Tuesday afternoon, setting up a showdown between a pair of unbeaten rivals at the World Junior Championship.

The 3-0 Americans will take on 3-0 Canada at 7 p.m. Thursday. The winner will get a bye into the semifinals, while the loser has to play a quarterfinal game.

UND recruit Danny Kristo scored two goals in the opening 12 minutes Tuesday as the Americans trounced an overmatched Latvia team 12-1.

Boston College's Chris Kreider had a hat trick, while Wisconsin's Derek Stepan (two goals, two assists) and Notre Dame's Kyle Palmieri (four assists) each had four-point nights. Denver recruit Jason Zucker also scored twice for the Americans.

Roseau, Minn., native Mike Lee stopped 18 of 19 shots and improved to 2-0 in the tournament. He helped the Americans to a 7-3 win over Slovakia in the opener.

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Team USA, meanwhile, fired 62 shots on goal.

Kristo opened the scoring with a wrist shot at 2 minutes, 30 seconds of the opening frame. After a Zucker tip-in goal, Kristo scored on the power play at 11:12. The Americans led 6-0 after just 20 minutes.

"We moved the puck well and did what we had to in the first period," U.S. coach Dean Blais said. "I was happy that we finished strong in the final period, because I knew that however we performed would carry over into our next game against Canada."

Latvia has been overmatched throughout the tournament. Following the loss to the Americans, the Latvians have been outscored 36-4 in three games.

The Americans haven't played any close games, either. They beat Slovakia by four and the Swiss by three to open the tournament. Now, it's on to Canada -- a team that has won five straight World Junior Championships and has had USA's number.

The last American victory over Canada came in the 2004 gold-medal game. Since then, Canada has won several thrilling games against the U.S. They won a sudden-death shootout in the 2007 semifinals and they rallied from a 3-0 deficit to beat the U.S. last year.

Up next

Who: USA vs. Canada.

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When: 7 p.m., Thursday.

TV: NHL Network.

Records: USA 3-0, Canada 3-0.

At stake: The winner will get a bye to the semifinals. The loser will play a quarterfinal game.

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