Chicago Blackhawks prospect Oliver Moore has gone from the extra forward on Team USA to a vital part of the first line in America's quest to win this year's IIHF World Junior Ice Hockey Championship.
Moore scored a goal and an assist as Team USA routed Latvia 7-2 in the quarterfinals.
Jimmy Snuggerud's illness in the final game of pool play allowed Moore to move up to the top line after skating the first three games as the extra forward. He picked up a primary assist against Slovakia.
His speed kept on him on the top line against Latvia and it paid off.
Moore and Cutter Gauthier set up Drew Fortescue for the game's opening goal a minute and thirty-one seconds into the first period.
Moore then finished Team USA's scoring with some nice puck maneuvering and a shot that lasered into the goal.
Moore was the only Blackhawks prospect on Team USA to register a point. Fellow prospect Frank Nazar, who was brilliant in pool play, centered the second line. He managed just two total shots in 13:57 of ice time. Defenseman Sam Rinzel, the last of the Blackhawks' three first-round picks in 2022, had 15:06 of ice time as he was part of the third defensemen pairing.
Unfortunately, someone had to replace Moore as the extra forward and it turned out to be Gavin Hayes, the Hawks' third-round selection in the most recent draft. Hayes only got on the ice for 2:26. He was booted from Team USA's last game for a game misconduct, so the lack of time might have been a bit of a punishment.
It is good to see Moore going from barely playing to making an impact. His speed is a major element of his game, and it is something that could form a lethal scoring duo with his fellow 2023 Chicago Blackhawks first-round selection, Connor Bedard.
Team USA will play Finland in the semifinals on Thursday, January 4th.
Finland beat Slovakia 4-3 to advance. Chicago Blackhawks goalie prospect Adam Gajan was in goal for Slovakia. He stopped 24 of 28 shots.