On Friday morning, New York Islanders forward Kieffer Bellows and the United States took on Latvia for the opening game of the 2022 IIHF World Championships in Finland.
The result, a 4-1 win for the Americans, backed by a three-goal first period.
Bellows, 23, donning the no. 22, had a solid showing for the Red, White & Blue as he skated on the third line alongside former University of Minnesota center, 23-year-old Ben Meyers (Colorado Avalanche), and 28-year-old right-winger Riley Barber (Detroit Red Wings).
Bellows and his linemates opened the scoring just over seven minutes into the contest, as Bellows deflected an Andrew Peeke (Columbus Blue Jackets) point shot from the high slot before the puck bounced off Barber’s skate and past Latvian netminder Elvis Merzlikins (Blue Jackets).
— USA Hockey (@usahockey) May 13, 2022
Although Barry Trotz is no longer at the helm in New York, Kieffer Bellows did the little things that would have put a smile on his face.
Just as Bellows showed with the New York Islanders this season, particularly the last stretch of games to close out 2021-22, he showed awareness in all three zones.
Instead of making pretty plays or trying to force something, he made the right plays.
And his feet were always moving.
In the first period, Bellows was able to get back and disrupt a Latvian rush, as he broke up a play along the boards.
In the third period, Bellows battled along the boards, stripping a Latvian player of the puck along the left side boards before he spun around him and got a shot on goal.
If you are the New York Islanders or a fan of the team, you want to see Kieffer Bellows dominating the tournament like he did back in 2018 when he broke a record at the U-20 IIHF World Junior Championships for most goals by an American, as he scored nine in seven games to pass Jeremy Roenick’s eight.
But playing in a bottom-six role, with NHL vets in the lineup, Bellows will need to make the most of his ice time, something that he has had to do since his NHL career began back in 2019-20.
And although he did not take over Team USA’s first game, Kieffer Bellows was reliable and contributed to the win on both sides of the puck.
Team USA’s second game of the tournament is Sunday, May 15, when they face off against Austria at 9 AM ET.