Most of the United State U18 team played a pretty good game last night. They peppered Russia with 55 shots and put in 5 goals; usually more than enough to win a game. The only problem was that goalie Adam Murray turned in a McCollum of a performance stopping only 20 of 26 shots in a 6-5 loss. After making all six saves in the first period, Murray could only make 14 saves on 20 shots.
The loss kept the US from winning their group and getting a bye into the semifinals. Instead, they will take on the Czech Republic in the quarterfinals to try and earn their way into the medal round.
Doesn't that seem just a wee bit familiar? Four months ago, it was the US U20 team that was one win against a top hockey power from earning a bye into the semifinals. They built an early lead and got great offensive production all game, but were saddled with a goalie that couldn't stop a beachball, and ended up losing their quarterfinal game to part of the former Czechoslovakia.
Ron Rolston was the head coach of the US U20 this winter, and chose to come back with Thomas McCollum after his disaster of a game against Canada and was rewarded with an even worse performance against Slovakia. Now he faces a nearly identical situation again. Before the tournament, Jack Campbell help steal a game for the US against Sweden in the pre-tournament, and I said it might be a difficult between Murray and Campbell in goal. Now, I think you have to go with Campbell in goal. The US has three single elimination games left and they have to take a chance on riding the hot goalie. They can't afford to outshoot an opponent by nearly 30 shots and lose again.