Switzerland spotted Latvia the first goal before rolling to a 7-2 win in Group A, so its player of the game Richard gets the honour for his three-assist effort. The Tampa Bay Lightning third-rounder has bright future as a two-way centre, which he showed to full effect by continuing the playmaking ways that have made him a top assist man for the OHL's Guelph Storm. Richard, 19, who spoke before the tournament of Switzerland's need to put away teams it can beat, gave his club its first lead by feeding Mike Künzle for a power-play goal in the opening period.
Latvia pulled a goal back in the second period, but the Swiss CHL connection delivered a backbreaker later on in the frame. On a penalty kill, Richard carried out from the corner and set up Rouyn-Noranda Huskies star Sven Adrighetto for a short-hander and 4-2 lead. Latvia, bearing the burden of being the ninth-seeded team which has to play back-to-back to start the tournament, never scored again.
No. 2 star: Alex Galchenyuk, United States
Galchenyuk (1G-2A, +3)) was impressive in Team USA's 8-0 win over Germany, as he was named the Americans' best player after notching three points.
Team USA's Milwaukee/Miami line of Galchenyuk and Miami RedHawks teammates Sean Kuraly (1G-1A, +3) and Riley Barber (1G-2A, +3) was the best trio on the ice on Thursday, by far. Kuraly opened the scoring 19 seconds into the game on a play where all five U.S. skaters touched the puck. Barber one-upped him by scoring 14 seconds after the second-period puckdrop.
No. 3 star: Mike Künzle, Switzerland
Künzle had a happy belated 19th birthday by being the day's only two-goal scorer with his two power-play salvos in the Swiss win over Latvia. The forward who has spent most of this season in Switzerland's B league got a go-ahead goal off a Tanner Richard lead to open a 2-1 lead in the first period. In the third, he scored again courtesy of a Richard setup to further put the game out of reach, as Switzerland put some wind into their sails ahead of a daunting matchup with Sweden in Group A on Friday.
Honourable mention: Edgars Siksna, Latvia
The Latvian captain and defenceman assisted on each of his team's goals against Switzerland, as they fell to 0-2 and are at risk of returning to the relegation round.
Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet.