Defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere, a player who may one day quarterback the Flyers' power play, scored a power-play goal as the United States cruised past Germany, 8-0, in the IIHF World Junior Championship tournament Thursday in Ufa, Russia.
"I like what I see from him. He's very creative with the puck," said Ian Laperriere, the Flyers' director of player development. "I'm glad he's playing in this tournament because it's a chance to see how he responds."
It was the first game in the International Ice Hockey Federation tournament for the Americans, who will have a much tougher challenge Friday when they face Russia in a 9 a.m. game that will be televised by the NHL Network and streamed live on NHL.com.
Eight players scored for Team USA on Thursday.
"We stuck to our game plan: all speed and forecheck hard," said Gostisbehere, a Union College (N.Y.) sophomore, in a phone interview from Russia after the game. "It's a big confidence-builder for us, and we're going to feed off it."
The lefthanded-shooting Gostisbehere, a Florida native who was drafted by the Flyers in the third round (78th overall) in June, gave Team USA a 5-0, second-period lead as he one-timed a blast from the top of the right circle into the upper corner.
The U.S. team scored 19 seconds into the game and never looked back.
Speedy left winger Johnny Gaudreau, a sophomore star from Boston College who played for three years at Gloucester Catholic, also helped the Americans.
"It's good to get a game under our belt," said Gaudreau, 19, who grew up in Carneys Point, N.J., and whose father, Guy, is the hockey director at the Hollydell Ice Arena in Sewell. "All four lines had goals, and our [defense] played well, and both of our goalies did a great job."
Gaudreau, a fourth-round selection of the Calgary Flames in 2011, helped Boston College win the national title last season. He has 11 goals and 23 points in 14 games this year for a B.C. team that is ranked No. 1 in the nation. The 5-foot-9, 150-pounder has been mentioned as a top candidate for the Hobey Baker Award, given to the nation's top collegiate player.
"It's exciting to hear that, but I don't let it get too far in my head," said Gaudreau, who formerly played for the Philadelphia Little Flyers and Team Comcast. "I'm just trying to win games and play well, and the guys are so close, it's been easy so far."
Gostisbehere (pronounced GOST-is-bear) has recovered from a summer concussion and has five goals and 13 points in 15 games for Union.
"I'm very excited to see what he can become," Laperriere said. "He's only going to get stronger and more confident."
Nicknamed "Ghost," Gostisbehere is 5-foot-11 and weighs just 167 pounds, so he uses his speed and smarts to compensate. Gostisbehere, 19, acknowledged that he needs to put on some pounds to help win more puck battles in the corners.
But Laperriere doesn't want him to bulk up too much.
"He moves well and is very agile, and that's what we like about him," Laperriere said. "We don't want him to put on too much weight. Today it's a fast game, and you don't need to be big."
Laperriere said Gostisbehere reminds him of a young Duncan Keith, a 29-year-old standout defenseman with the Chicago Blackhawks who is known for his stellar two-way play.
"I'm not saying he's him yet, but I like the way he wants the puck," Laperriere said. "Every chance he gets, he moves into the [offensive] play, sometimes too much. But I'd rather see someone who wants to get involved than the other way around."
Most young defensemen who jump into the offense have defensive shortcomings, Laperriere said. Gostisbehere is different.
"His defensive game is underrated," he said. "He's always in the right position."
Gostisbehere has not set a timetable for when he thinks he can reach the NHL.
"I'm just taking it one step at a time," he said. "I want to finish college and see where it takes me."
Before returning to Union - which he helped make a stunning run to the Frozen Four last season - Gostisbehere will try to aid Team USA's drive toward a championship.
"It's the greatest opportunity you can have, representing your country," he said. "We get to fly around the world and put the jersey on for our country, and we're having a blast."