BONNYVILLE, Alta. – The U.S. Junior Select Team scored three power-play goals en route to a 4-2 win over Russia today in the semifinals of the World Junior A Challenge in Bonnyville, Alberta.
“Special teams is so crucial in these tournaments,” said Jay Varady, head coach of the 2016 U.S. Junior Select Team. “It was encouraging to see both our power play and penalty kill have success throughout. I’m proud of this team for turning it around and winning three of four games in four days in order to advance to Saturday’s championship game.”
With the win, Team USA (3-0-0-1, W-OTW-OTL-L) now advances to the finals of the World Junior A Challenge on Saturday (Dec. 17) at 7 p.m. ET. The U.S. will face the winner of tonight’s semifinal matchup between the Czech Republic and Canada East. The championship tilt will be updated live on Twitter @USAHockeyScores, in addition to being televised on a next-day delay by NHL Network on Sunday (Dec. 18) at noon ET.
Against Russia, the U.S. jumped out to a 2-0 lead after one period, capitalizing on a pair of power-play opportunities in the final two minutes of the frame. Zach Solow (Naples, Fla.) opened the scoring on a shot from the right faceoff dot with 1:55 left in the stanza. Chris Berger (Buffalo, N.Y.) followed the Solow goal by crashing the net and shoveling home a rebound to double the U.S. advantage with 22 seconds left in the period.
Brannon McManus (Huntington Beach, Calif.) scored Team USA’s third power-play goal of the contest with four minutes remaining in the middle frame. The play started with Nick Swaney (Lakeville, Minn.) collecting a cross-ice feed from Alex Limoges (Winchester, Va.), then centering the puck in front of the goal to McManus, who one-timed it for the score to make it 3-0 after 40 minutes.
Early in the third period, Jake Ryczek (Ludlow, Mass.) extended the U.S. advantage to 4-0 with a slap shot from the top of the right circle at 6:40. Russia’s Andrei Svechnikov scored twice in the final ten minutes to account for the 4-2 final.
Cayden Primeau (Voorhees, N.J.) finished with 23 saves to earn his second win in as many nights for Team USA.
NOTES: Blake Lizotte (Lindstrom, Minn.) was named U.S. Player of the Game … The U.S. outshot Russia 35-25, finished 3-for-6 on the power play and 4-for-4 on the penalty kill … For complete game stats, click here … The World Junior A Challenge is in its 11th year, and the U.S. is competing for the 10th time … This marks the seventh trip to the World Junior A Challenge finals for the U.S. Team USA captured the World Junior A Challenge title in each of its first six appearances in the final (2008-2010, 2012-14). All U.S. players currently play in the United States Hockey League, the lone Tier I junior hockey league in the United States. For the full U.S. roster, click here … For complete coverage of Team USA. at the World Junior A Challenge, click here … The 2016 field includes Canada East, Canada West, Czech Republic, Russia, Switzerland and the United States.