After a 3-2 victory over Finland on Dec. 22 in its lone exhibition game, tournament action opened on Dec. 25 against Russia. The U.S. fell behind 4-1 to its international rivals, but made a significant push in the third period with goals from John Farinacci (Red Bank, N.J.) and Trevor Zegras (Bedford, N.Y.) to make the game 4-3. However, thanks to an empty-net goal, Russia prevailed, 5-3.
Dustin Wolf (Gilroy, Calif.) and Team USA posted a shutout against Austria with an 11-0 victory the following night. In total, 16 different players picked up points in the win, including Boldy, who scored a hat trick. Wolf, who appeared in net for the U.S. against Russia in the final 26 minutes of action, began a shutout streak for Team USA that would span over parts of five games, eventually setting a IIHF World Junior Championship record.
The U.S. clinched a spot in quarterfinals on Dec. 29, with a 7-0 shutout of the Czech Republic. The line of Bobby Brink (Minnetonka, Minn.), Brett Berard (East Greenwich, R.I.), and Farinacci, appropriately, was given credit for kick-starting the U.S. offensive attack. Brink was named U.S. Player of the Game with two goals. Spencer Knight (Darien, Conn.) stopped all 22 shots he faced to extend the U.S. shutout streak.