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Washington native Barber leads Team USA to 1st-round win at World Junior

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Thursday, Dec. 26, 2013, 4:12 p.m.
 

Riley Barber already has a gold medal from the World Junior Championship. Still, he was nervous Thursday morning when his pursuit of another began in Malmo, Sweden.

“I couldn't sleep,” Barber said.

He sure did not play tired, scoring the opening goal for defending champion Team USA in a 5-1 victory over the Czech Republic to open the Americans' Group A bracket.

Barber, a Washington native, is Team USA's captain. He was one of four Western Pennsylvanians who won gold at the 2013 World Junior.

His aim is to lead a repeat performance, and one of his objectives was realized Thursday.

“We wanted to start off with a convincing win because it instills confidence in the team,” Barber said. “It gets everybody in a better mood. Attitude is a real big factor in this tournament.”

Barber, 19, plays at Miami (Ohio) and was a sixth-round pick (167th overall) by the Washington Capitals in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft at Consol Energy Center.

The Americans play Slovakia on Saturday. NHL Network will broadcast the game at 7:30 a.m., with former Penguins broadcaster Steve Mears on the call.

Barber said he has no family members in Sweden for the tournament, so they are also watching on TV.

Two Penguins prospects are World Junior participants, and each contributed during their squad's openers.

Defenseman Derrick Pouliot assisted on two of Canada's goals in a 7-2 victory over Germany in Group A. Pouliot, 19, was the eighth overall pick in 2012. He and Olli Maatta (22nd overall) were Penguins first-round selections.

Center Oskar Sundqvist scored for Sweden in a 5-3 victory against Switzerland in Group B.

Sundqvist, 19, was a Penguins third-round pick (81st overall) in 2012.

Rob Rossi is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at rrossi@tribweb.com or via Twitter @RobRossi_Trib.

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