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World Juniors: US Survives Sloppy Effort to Advance

USA v Switzerland - 2017 IIHF World Junior Championships

It wasn’t pretty, but the United States survived their quarterfinal match-up against Switzerland with a 3-2 victory to advance to Wednesday’s semifinal at the Bell Centre in Montreal, where they will face Russia.

The US got off to another strong start by building a 2-0 lead in the first period thanks to a goal and an assist by Jeremy Bracco.

But the US offense stalled from there putting up just two shots on goal in the second period, and taking multiple penalties that allowed the Swiss to climb back into the game.

Swiss forward Nico Hischier scored on the power play in the second period to cut into the lead, and then scored another power play goal early in the third period to tie the game.

But Jordan Greenway had a quick answer to put the United States back into the lead when he slapped home a power play goal in front of the net. The Swiss would continue to pressure for the tying goal, but US goalie Tyler Parsons was stellar in net and the US was able to hang on for the win.

Notes and Thoughts

-Eh. A lot of people will say an effort like this won’t cut it in future games against Russia or Sweden/Canada in the final, and that’s true. But the US didn’t have to play one of those teams today. The big advantage to playing so well in the preliminary round is that you’re likely to draw a team where a C- effort is good effort. Hopefully this scare regroups the US team and they come out sharper against a Russian team that is going to be looking for revenge.

-Tonight was an absolute star turn for Swiss draft eligible Nico Hischier. I wrote after the prelim round that he belonged in the discussion for the top five, and I’m ready to amend that to say he belongs in the discussion for number one overall. He’s a unique offensive talent, and he just keeps getting better and better in a year where nobody else seems to be playing that well.

-Tyler Parsons was a difference-maker for the US tonight. Both of his highlight reel saves were a little less impressive on replay—the Swiss didn’t get a great shot off on that first period 3-on-1 that Parsons dove to save, and he was actually in pretty decent position when he robbed Hischier late—but he made both saves when he very easily could have not, and also didn’t allow any freebies.

I’ll be interested to see if the US goalie rotation continues, but at this point, I think Parsons has earned the start against Russia. The US isn’t likely to get anything better than they got tonight in goal.

-Discipline and penalties were my number one key to victory for the US in this game. They failed that miserably and it almost cost them the game. That has become a consistent problem and one that I really think could cost them in these final two games.

-Though Switzerland was able to tie it, the US still has yet to trail in this tournament. I still don’t think this team can be beat if they get an early lead.