Rangers prospect J.T. Miller, the team's 2011 first-round draft pick, got off to a fast start along with his U.S. teammates at the 2013 World Junior Championship hockey tournament on Thursday in Ufa, Russia.
Miller scored a third-period goal and won nine of 13 faceoffs as the Americans dominated Germany 8-0 in their Group B tournament-opener. The game was a rout from the outset, beginning when Team USA's Sean Kuraly scored just 19 seconds into the first period. Germany was no match for the Americans, who led 3-0 after one period and 6-0 lead through 40 minutes.
Eight different players scored for Team USA, which outshot Germany 46-26. In addition to his goal, Miller finished plus-1 with two shots.
Miller's goal gave the U.S. a 7-0 lead at 8:36 of the third period. Skating even-strength, Miller capitalized on a German turnover at the top of the left faceoff circle, moved alone down the slot and jammed the puck under the right pad of goaltender Marvin Cupper. The unassisted goal was typical of the USA domination throughout the game, as the Americans made Germany pay for mistakes in its own zone.
The 19-year-old Miller, who had five goals and 14 points in 26 games for the Connecticut Whale of the American Hockey League before joining Team USA for the World Junior tournament, is the only professional player on the American roster. He centered a line with Florida prospect Rocco Grimaldi on his left side and Calgary prospect John Gaudreau on his right.
Miller also saw a lot of time on the power play, where he spent most of the time stationed in front of Cupper and managed to screen the German goalie on a Shane Gotisbehere goal at 6:33 of the second. That man-advantage goal came off a tripping penalty Miller drew just over a minute earlier.
An alternate captain for Team USA, Miller is one of a handful of returnees from last year's World Junior team. He extends the Rangers organization's streak of having a prospect on Team USA in each of the past four tournaments and five of the past six. Ryan Bourque and Chris Kreider, teammates of Miller's on this year's Whale, were among members of the 2010 World Junior team that won World Junior squad.
This year's U.S. squad, coached by former NHL All-Star defenseman Phil Housley, faces a much tougher challenge in its second game on Friday vs. the host Russian squad. Team USA, Russia, and Canada are the favorites to advance out of the Group B round-robin and reach the medal round.
The tournament runs through Jan. 5 and is airing on the NHL Network.
Did you watch the game? Tell us what you thought of J.T. and Team USA's performance. Can you see this team winning gold?