Russian goalie Ilya Samsonov showed why he's the top-rated international goalie on NHL Central Scouting's final draft rankings with an incredible 49 saves on 50 shots to lead Russia to a 3-1 upset victory over the United States in their opening game of the IIHF World U18 Championships.
The United States got on the board first with Troy Terry's high snap shot that beat the glove of Samsonov. But the US could not extend their lead, despite dominating the first period by a 19-3 shot margin. The Russians would do their damage in the second period. Denis Gurianov forced a turnover shorthanded at his own blue line then raced down the ice and slid a puck between the legs of US goalie Luke Opilka to tie the game at one on Russia's first shot of the period at 3:09 of the period. Russia's next shot in the second period would go in too, as Dmitri Zhukenov finished off a tic-tac-toe passing play on the power play in what would prove to be the game winner.
The US maintained heavy pressure throughout the game, but could not find a tying goal, and Russia iced the game with a late empty-netter to seal the victory. Final shots totals for the game were 50-16 in favor of the United States.
It's a tremendously disappointing result for the United States, but in the long run, not terrible. The US also dropped their first game of the tournament last year before going on to win the gold medal, and aside from failing to finish some good opportunities, they more than dominated this game.
Top players for the United States included Auston Matthews, who seemed on the verge of scoring every time he was on the ice, as well as Jack Roslovic, Jeremy Bracco, and underager Chad Krys.
The US plays again tomorrow when they face off against Slovakia at 8:45am EST.