It is semifinal day here in Vancouver, British Columbia. The U.S. (4-0-1-0) meets Russia (5-0-0-0) tonight in the semifinal round of the 2019 IIHF World Junior Championship. Tonight's game, which will be televised live on NHL Network, is set for 1 p.m. local time (4 p.m. ET) here at Rogers Arena, home of the NHL's Vancouver Canucks. For gameday details, click here.
UNOFFICIAL SECOND MEETING
Today's game is, in a way, the second meeting between these two teams surrounding the 2019 IIHF World Junior Championship. In a pre-tournament game on Dec. 20 at Sandman Centre in Kamloops, B.C., Jack Hughes (Orlando, Fla./U.S. Nat'l U18 Team) scored the game-winning goal with 28.3 seconds to play and both Oliver Wahlstrom (Quincy, Mass./Boston College) and Joel Farabee (Cicero, N.Y./Boston University) registered two points as the U.S. overcame a two-goal deficit to defeat Russia, 3-2. Spencer Knight (Darien, Conn./ U.S. Nat'l U18 Team) and Cayden Primeau (Voorhees, N.J./ Northeastern University) split the game as Knight saved seven of nine shots and Primeau turned aside all eight shots he faced.
Five current players on the NHL's Vancouver Canucks hail from the United States, including three who have skated for the U.S. previously in Brock Boeser (Burnsville, Minn.), Thatcher Demko (San Diego, Calif.) and Tyler Motte (St. Clair, Mich.). Boeser, who last season became the first American rookie and second-ever rookie behind Mario Lemieux (1985) to be named MVP of an NHL All-Star Game, captained the U.S. to a third-place finish at the 2014 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament before helping the U.S. win a bronze medal at the 2016 IIHF World Junior Championship. Demko and Motte were teammates at USA Hockey's National Team Development Program (2011-13) and skated together for three U.S. national teams, including the 2013 U.S. Under-18 Men's National Team (silver), 2015 U.S. National Junior Team (fifth) and 2016 U.S. Men's National Team (fourth). Among the 23 U.S. players with NHL rights are two Vancouver picks in 2018 selections Quinn Hughes (first round, 7th overall) and Tyler Madden (third round, 68th overall). Additionally, both of Team USA's draft-eligible players are projected to hear their names called early in the 2019 NHL Draft, which will take place June 21-22 here in Vancouver. Team USA's two draft-eligible players include Jack Hughes, brother of Quinn, who is the projected first overall pick and NHL Central Scouting's top-ranked player, and Spencer Knight, one of the top projected goaltenders in this year's draft. The two are in their second season as teammates with USA Hockey's National Team Development Program.