The United States World Junior team fell 5-3 to Russia in the quarterfinal round of the World Juniors, ending their hopes of winning a second straight gold medal, or a medal of any color.
The game started with a wide open first period. Russia got the scoring started with a rebound goal by Mikhail Grigorenko. Stefan Matteau answered back for the United States when he knocked in a puck on the goal line after a nice rush by Jack Eichel. Russia answered back just second later to retake the lead, but Ryan Hartman would even the game with a nice backhand shot. Nic Kerdiles would give the US the lead late in the first period, when he knocked a waist-high pass down in the neutral zone and fired a quick wrist shot just inside the blue line that beat Russian goaltender Andrei Vasilevski.
The game tightened up in the second period. After a rough first period, Vasilevski, who was expected to be one of the top goalies in the tournament, settled down and showed why he is so highly though of. He made a game-changing save to stop a US 3-on-1 opportunity with an incredible sliding save on a Ryan Hartman one-timer to keep it a one-goal hockey game.
The US controlled play for much of the second period, sitting back defensively, and not allowing Russia to generate much in the way of offense. But the US' downfall began with an offensive zone tripping penalty by Stefan Matteau as he fought for a loose puck. On the ensuing Russia power play, Thomas DiPauli was called for a neutral zone hooking penalty giving Russia over 90 seconds of 5-on-3 man advantage. The Russians quickly capitalized when giant Russian defenseman Nikita Zadorov buried a one-timer over the shoulder of US goalie Jon Gillies. Off the ensuing faceoff, US defenseman Steve Santini took the face-off, and from just a few steps inside his own zone, fired a long, high clearing attempt. The puck traveled the length of the ice and went over the glass, for a delay of game penalty. Russian capitalized with the two-man advantage again, as Zadorov scored his second of the game, again with a one-timed blast from the point.
The big Russian defense was able to limit American opportunities in the third period, and Vasilevski was solid when needed. The United States had a few power play opportunities in the third period, but the US struggled all day with the man advantage. After looking dominant against lesser competition early in the tournament, the US could not produce with the man advantage in their final two games, going a combined 0 for 11 against Canada and Russia, including a costly 0 for 5 today.
Russia advances to the tournament semifinals where they will face the winner of the game between host Sweden and Slovakia in a game that will be played later today.
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