Can Team USA defend their IIHF World Junior Ice Hockey Championship title?

Squaring off with Denmark in the preliminary round of the world juniors, Team USA also got two goals from Western Hockey League prospect Kieffer Bellows to notch a 9-0 shutout.

Team USA is scheduled to return on Thursday with to play against Slovakia. The 2018 World Juniors preliminary round continues through Dec. 31 before relegation in January, which precedes the playoffs.

Tuesday’s game in Buffalo marked USA’s eighth straight win defending world champions. Team USA seeks to win repeat gold medals for the first time in program history.

Casey Mittelstadt is the all-star as his name has been in the headlines from the NHL Combine, where he couldn’t do a single pull-up as a top prospect for the 2017 draft. He was the eighth overall pick of the draft and the Buffalo Sabres’ top choice, he also has received an Under-18 Men’s World Championship medal, lighting it up on the World Juniors stage doesn’t hurt his stock, especially since he’s also on the University of Minnesota’s 2017-18 roster.

Kieffer Bellows, Team USA’s other multi-goal scorer vs. Denmark also deserves some attention for his big night on the stat sheet. His impact went beyond the numbers, though. His phenomenal skill set was what we saw in the game vs Denmark. Making him 16th in the overall pick in 2016.

Forward Brady Tkachuk also deserves a mention. A top prospect for the 2018 NHL Draft, he’s known as the bigger, faster and “nastier” version of his brother, Calgary Flames youngster and 2016 World Juniors bronze medalist Matthew Tkachuk, and his behind-the-net setup work helped America go up 4-0 in Tuesday’s bout.