EDMONTON, Alberta - The U.S. National Junior Team dropped a 5-3 decision to Russia in its opening game of the 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship here tonight. Cam York (Anaheim Hills, Calif.), John Farinacci (Red Bank, N.J.) and Trevor Zegras (Bedford, N.Y.) all scored a goal for Team USA, bringing the game to 4-3 in the final minutes, before Russia scored an empty-net goal.
“I like the way we battled until the end tonight and had a chance to win the game, but we put ourself in a tough position with our puck management,” said head coach Nate Leaman (East Greenwich, R.I.). “We have to re-focus, grow and get better for tomorrow night.”
The United States had the first opportunity on the power play just over three minutes into the game, but couldn’t crack Russian netminder Yaroslav Askarov. The Russians took the lead 11:53 into the period, but the U.S countered at 14:01 with a goal from captain York, who wristed the puck past Askarov from the point through traffic with Cole Caufield (Stevens Point, Wis.) and Matt Boldy (Millis, Mass.) assisting on the play.
Russia scored three times over a span of 9:03 in the second period to take a 4-1 lead, with Dustin Wolf (Gilroy, Calif.) replacing Spencer Knight (Darrien, Conn.) in net for the U.S. after the fourth Russian goal at 12:15.
With 10:03 remaining in the final period, Brett Berard (East Greenwich, R.I.) found Drew Helleson (Farmington, Minn.) up top. Helleson's shot was stopped, but Farinacci put home the rebound, to cut the Russia lead to 4-2. The U.S. got within a goal with 2:18 left in regulation when Zegras fired one past Askarov on the power play, whose line of vision was taken away by Boldy. York drew the lone assist on the play.
The U.S. pulled Wolf with 1:01 left in favor of an extra attacker, however, couldn't get the equalizer. Russia scored into an empty net with :21 left to account for the 5-3 final.
Knight had eight saves on 12 shots in the first 32:15 of play, while Wolf stopped all 11 shots he faced in the final 27:45 of the contest.
The U.S. will continue 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship preliminary round play tomorrow (Dec. 26) against Austria. Puck drop is scheduled for 9:30 p.m. ET and the game can be seen live on NHL Network.
NOTES: Cam York (Anaheim Hills, Calif.) was named U.S. Player of the Game … The U.S. outshot Russia, 26-24 … The U.S. went 1-for-4 on the power play, while Russia was 0-for-1.