On Friday afternoon at Bell Centre in Montreal, the United States bowed out of the IIHF World Junior Championship with a 3-2 loss to Russia in the quarterfinal round for a second consecutive year.
After going undefeated in its first three games of the tournament with wins over Finland, Germany and Slovakia, the U.S. dropped a 5-3 decision to Canada on New Year's Eve afternoon before falling to the Russians to finish the tournament with a 2-2-0-1 record.
The U.S. was called for five penalties in the first period and gave Russia a 2-0 lead after 20 minutes on the strength of goals from Ivan Barbashyov and Alexander Sharov at 2:31 and 15:25, respectively.
After being outshot by a 10-9 margin in the first, the Americans needed a strong bounce-back period in the second to keep themselves in the game. It took until the 12:43 mark to find the back of the net though as Sarnia Sting (OHL) defenseman Anthony DeAngelo ripped a shot from the point to halve the deficit.
Penalty troubles doomed the U.S. once again as a tripping call to Sonny Milano 1:02 into the third period allowed the Russians to go up 3-1 on a power-play goal by Sergei Tolchinski.
Michigan freshman Zach Werenski made it a 3-2 game 8:56 into the final stanza with 2016 draft-eligible Auston Matthews set up another point shot through traffic. That was as close as the Americans would get, despite Boston College sophomore goaltender Thatcher Demko being pulled in favor of an extra attacker with 1:25 to play.
Demko made 22 saves on 25 shots and kept the U.S. in the game for much of the tournament, but inopportune penalties and inability to capitalize offensively cost the Americans a shot at the semifinals beginning Sunday in Toronto.
Following the game, Minnesota sophomore forward Hudson Fasching (1-2--3), Denver sophomore Will Butcher and Michigan freshman forward Dylan Larkin (5-2--7) were named the top three players of the tournament for the United States.
Larkin was the team's offensive leader for much of the tournament and showed himself well early as the rest of the American offense struggled in the early goings of its final contest. The 2014 first-round draftee of the Detroit Red Wings did not find the scoresheet against Russia but was credited with seven shots on goal, including four in the first period.