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Drew O’Connor, Casey DeSmith lead USA to victory in IIHF Worlds Day 1

Who needs Jake Guentzel when Team USA has DOC?

IHOCKEY-WC-2023-MEN-FIN-USA Photo by ANTTI AIMO-KOIVISTO/Lehtikuva/AFP via Getty Images

It’s third-line center Drew O’Connor’s world, and Team USA is just living in it.

O’Connor registered three points as USA defeated host Finland, 4-1, to kick off the 2023 IIHF Ice Hockey Men’s World Championship Friday.

Finland was first on the board, but Team USA, captained by Nick Bonino and backstopped by Casey DeSmith, tied things up in the second period.

The deciding goal was notched by O’Connor, who lifted a backhand pass from Winnipeg Jets defenseman Dylan Samberg into the net to put the Americans ahead in the back half the third period.

O’Connor added assists on each of Buffalo Sabres forward Alex Tuch’s two put-away goals.

DeSmith, who stood tall back in the first period when Team USA struggled early against the Finns, then closed out the victory. He finished the afternoon with 19 saves, one goal against and player of the game honors.

Later that day, Team Canada downed Latvia in a blowout, 6-0. P.O. Joseph, skating on a third pairing alongside the Vancouver Canucks’ Tyler Myers, finished the afternoon with a plus-3 rating.

Meanwhile, Alex Nylander skated 13 minutes and recorded a shot as Sweden shut out Germany, 1-0.

Today, Justin Addamo, who scored five goals in 14 games on a professional tryout agreement for the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins to earn himself an AHL contract for 2023-24, will make his World Championship debut for Team France in a contest against Austria.