FRISCO, Texas - The U.S. Under-18 Men's National Team earned a point, but fell to Russia in overtime, 7-6, in the first preliminary-round matchup of the 2021 IIHF Under-18 Men's World Championship.
"In a game like this, it's two good teams and there's going to be ups and downs," head coach Dan Muse said after the game. "So while we controlled momentum early, they had some big shifts in the second period to put us back on our heels. We need to be better with how we react to those types of situations and get our game back on track."
Ryan Chesley (Mahtomedi, Minn.) opened the scoring just 2:56 into the game with a slap-shot from the right point. A loose puck trickled back to the defenseman after a failed Russian clearing attempt, where he one-timed it short side over the netminder’s shoulder for an early 1-0 lead.
Team USA doubled its advantage with a Dylan Duke (Strongsville, Ohio) power-play tally just past the five-minute mark of the opening frame. Camped in front of the net, Duke took a pass from Lane Hutson (Barrington, Ill.) and tried going cross-crease with his pass before it deflected off a Russian defender and in to make it a 2-0 game. Sasha Pastujov (Bradenton, Fla.) was credited with the secondary helper on the score.
After Russia cut the lead to 2-1 near the midway point of the period, Team USA answered with its second man advantage goal of the period when Sean Behrens (Barrington, Ill.) roofed his wrist-shot from the top of the left circle. He was set up by a great fake slap-pass from Hutson and Logan Cooley (West Mifflin, Pa.) earned an assist on the United States’ third goal.
Team USA came out firing in the middle period with two goals in the first 3:16. Ethan Straky (Ormond Beach, Fla.) connected on a short-range shot after a series of great passes from Isaac Howard (Hudson, Wis.) and Charlie Stramel (Rosemount, Minn.).
Pastujov added the team’s third power-play marker of the night to make it 5-1 early in the second. Hutson once again ran the point on the 5-on-4 opportunity and slid a pass to Pastujov on the forward’s off wing. The lefty didn’t get all of the one-timer but found a way to knuckle his shot under the glove of Valeri Brinkman.
Russia responded with the next three goals of the game to bring the score within one at 5-4 with 6:51 remaining in the second.
Duke collected his second of the game to push the lead back to two goals with a great redirection of a Pastujov shot, but Russia tallied a power-play goal of their own to make it 6-5 game after two periods of play.
After a scoreless start to the final period, Russia scored the tying goal with 5:16 remaining in regulation to force overtime before netting the winning goal 1:25 into the extra session.
NOTES: With a goal and two assists, Sean Behrens was named the U.S. Player of the Game, presented by Elite Prospects... Team USA news, interviews, highlights and more can be found at TeamUSA.USAHockey.com....For the official IIHF home for the 2021 Under-18 World Championship, click here... 23 of the 24 players on Team USA's roster come from the National Team Development Program... The U.S. enters the tournament having medaled in a record 16 consecutive tournaments, including six golds in the past 10 competitions... Team USA has won 10 gold medals in tournament history, the most of any country in Under-18 Men's World Championship history... For the latest news and information about the tournament, follow @USAHockey on Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Facebook.