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US Falls to Russians

The United States U18 team lost this morning to Russia, by a score of 3-1, in the semifinals of the World U18 championships. The game story is here. They'll take on Sweden at 7am EST tomorrow morning for the bronze medal.

The game with Sweden should be a great one. The US lost a tough 5-4 game to the Swedes earlier in the tournament, and similar incarnations of these squads have had some great battles over the past two years.

Still, even a win tomorrow probably wouldn't save this tournament from being a bit of a disappointment in the US. This tournament a real measuring stick for US hockey, and anything less than a first or second place finish isn't necessarily a failure, but it also isn't up to expectations. Though it definitely deserves mentioning that thanks to the NTDP, a first or second place finish is an expectation, and not a pleasant surprise.

The tournament does confirm what people have been saying for a while, which is that this is a pretty down year for the US. In a somewhat telling stat, only three US players were among the tournaments top 30 scorers: Jeremy Morin, a '91 birthdate, David Warsofsky, who was added to the team this past summer, and Phil McRae, who left the team to play for the London Knights. Team USA's starting goalie for the majority of games was Brandon Maxwell, also a '91 birthdate. This US team was also without two potential first round draft picks in defenseman Zach Bogosian and forward AJ Jenks, who both went to the OHL.