Hughes, U.S. secure Group B title at world juniors

MONCTON, New Brunswick — Captain Luke Hughes and forward Jimmy Snuggerud each had a goal and an assist and Team USA secured the Group B title at the world junior championship Saturday night with a 6-2 victory over Finland.

The Americans improved to 3-1 at the tournament and won their second straight after a surprising loss to Slovakia earlier in the week. The Group B championship means Team USA will stay in Moncton and play Germany in a quarterfinals matchup Monday.

Hughes, a defenseman for the Michigan Wolverines and a first-round draft pick of the New Jersey Devils, led a balanced attack, and Snuggerud, who plays for the Minnesota Golden Gophers, scored for the third time in the past two games. A first-round pick of the St. Louis Blues, Snuggerud was named Team USA’s player of the game by a tournament committee.

“We’re going to have a strong competition with Germany,” Snuggerud said. “We can’t take them lightly.”

Trey Augustine, Team USA’s 17-year-old netminder, made 29 saves en route to his third victory of the tournament. Augustine is committed to play college hockey with the Michigan State Spartans. Kaidan Mbereko, who plays at Colorado College, started against Slovakia and has the Americans’ lone loss on his record.

“I thought our compete level was excellent tonight,” U.S. coach Rand Pecknold said. “Our puck management was great and we took another step forward against a good Finland team.”

In the other Group B finale in Moncton, Switzerland beat Slovakia 4-3 in a shootout. Rodwin Dionicio, a defenseman for the Ontario Hockey League’s Niagara IceDogs, beat Adam Gajan in the 10th round of the tiebreaker.

In Halifax, Nova Scotia, New York Rangers prospect Brennan Othmann had two goals and Connor Bedard, the likely No. 1 overall pick in the NHL draft this coming offseason, had four assists as Team Canada defeated Sweden 5-1 in Group A later Saturday night. Bedard, 17, improved his point total to 18 for the tournament, which leads all skaters.

Canada concluded group play in second place, which means it will take on Slovakia on Monday in the quarterfinals.

Earlier Saturday, in Group A in Halifax, the Czech Republic defeated Germany 8-1. Jaroslav Chmelar had two goals and an assist for the Czechs.

The other two quarterfinals Monday will pit the Czechs vs. Switzerland, and Finland vs. Sweden.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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