Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Team North America Relies on Its Speed

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Team North America Relies on Its Speed

Article excerpt

Let's get a few things straight about Team North America.

There isn't a single booster seat on its team bus. The water bottles on its bench are not filled with formula. The razors available in their locker room have blades. Metal ones.

Oh, and something else: That team just might be a viable threat to win the World Cup of Hockey tournament that begins Saturday in Toronto.

Never mind that some of its members wouldn't be able to celebrate legally with anything more potent than an energy drink.

North America's 3-2 loss against the Czech Republic Wednesday in the undercard of an exhibition doubleheader at Consol Energy Center was a reminder that promise doesn't always translate directly to production, but the team has the speed and skill to be a major force in the tournament.

"Everybody's pretty fast nowadays," forward J.T. Miller said. "But this team is the fastest I've ever seen."

The volatility of North America's offense was evident in the third period, when Shayne Gostisbehere and Auston Matthews scored in a span of 119 seconds, but those were the only goals generated on 44 shots against Czech goalies Michal Neuvirth and Petr Mrazek.

"Both of their goalies played really well," North America goalie Matt Murray said. "I thought that was the difference in the game."

Despite its struggle to score against the Czechs, North America is deep and balanced up front. Like most other World Cup contenders, a few degrees of brilliance is all that distinguishes its first line from the fourth.

"There's definitely a lot more speed and skill [than in a typical NHL lineup]," No. 1 center Connor McDavid said. "If you look up and down an NHL team, there's the top two lines and a checking line and a hard-hitting line."

It is no coincidence that North America's players seem to possess a surplus of fast-twitch muscles. General manager Peter Chiarelli and his staff emphasized speed when assembling the roster. …

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