BONNYVILLE, Alberta – The United States Junior Select Team suffered its first regulation loss of the 2018 World Junior A Challenge on Friday afternoon when it fell to Russia, 4-3, at R.J. Lalonde Arena.
Bobby Brink (Minnetonka, Minn./0-2--2), Luke Johnson (Edina, Minn./1-1--2) and Zac Jones (Glen Allen, Va./0-2--2) led the way for the U.S. with two points apiece.
The U.S. Junior Select Team (2-0-1-1/W-OTW-OTL-L) will face Canada West in the semifinals on Saturday (Dec. 15) at 7 p.m. MT. and the game will be streamed live on HockeyTV.com.
"Today was a great hockey game against an excellent opponent," said Anthony Noreen, head coach of the U.S. Junior Select Team. "We loved the compete level of our guys and the controlled passion they played with. We need to move past this game quickly, get some rest and get ready for Canada West."
The U.S. came out with plenty of pace, recording 14 shots on goal and holding the Russians to six shots in the first period. Team USA had it first power play opportunity midway through the opening stanza and just seven seconds after the penalty expired, Trevor Janicke (Maple Grove, Minn.) took a pass across the neutral zone from Jones and streaked over the Russian blue line. Janicke faked a slap shot and dropped the puck to Ryan O'Reilly (Southlake, Texas) who fired a wrist shot that leaked through Vsevolod Skotnikov to give the U.S. a 1-0 lead. Blake Pietila (Howell, Mich.) stood tall in net for Team USA, making six saves on as many shots.
Russia scored on a power play early in the second period to tie the game when Artemii Kniazev fired a shot from the point that made its way through a screen in front and snuck past Pietilla. The U.S. regained the lead with just 2:11 left in the middle stanza when Brink dropped a pass to a streaking Luke Johnson who pulled the puck to his backhand and beat Skotnikov.
The Russians started the third period similar to the way they started the second, applying immediate pressure to Team USA. After a Russian shot sailed wide of the net, Podkolzin collected the puck and fed Dmitrii Sheshin on the opposite post who beat a sprawling Pietila to tie the game at two just 57 seconds into the stanza.
Following a pair of Russian penalties, Team USA went back to the power play and capitalized to regain the lead. After the first Russian penalty expired, Jones fired a pass from behind his own net ahead to Brink who collected the puck at center ice. After skating into the offensive zone, Brink fed a pass to Parker Ford (Wakefield, R.I.) who skillfully handled the puck off of his skate and fired a shot over the glove of Skotnikov on the short side at 5:11.
The Russians tied the game just 1:02 later on the power play when Mikhail Abramov knocked the puck out of midair on a U.S. clearing attempt, walked into the slot, and beat Pietila on the glove side.
With the Russians being undefeated entering the game, an overtime decision of any kind would clinch a first-place finish in the preliminary round and give them the advantage of choosing the time at which they will play in Saturday's semifinal. In hopes of earning a win in regulation and clinching first place, Team USA pulled Pietila with 1:30 remaining, but could not capitalize after several quality chances. Russia scored into an empty net at 19:05 to account for the 4-3 final.
Pietila made 20 saves in the U.S. net.
NOTES: Brink was named the U.S. Player of the Game ... The U.S. outshot the Russians 21-7 in the third period … The U.S. went 1-for-5 on the power play and 4-for-6 on the penalty kill ... Click here for complete game statistics from tonight's game ...The World Junior A Challenge is in its 13th year, and the U.S. is competing for the 12th time ... The U.S. is competing against Canada East, Canada West, the Czech Republic and Russia in this year's tournament ... Team USA has captured the World Junior A Challenge title seven times (2008-10, 2012-14, 2016).
|Date||Opponent||Venue||Location||Time (Local/ET)/Result||Streaming Coverage|
|Fri., Dec. 7||Canada East*||Cold Lake Energy Centre||Cold Lake, Alta.||W, 3-1||HockeyTV|
|Sun., Dec. 9||Canada West||R.J. Lalonde Arena||Bonnyville, Alta.||SOL, 1-2||HockeyTV|
|Tues., Dec. 11||Czech Republic||R.J. Lalonde Arena||Bonnyville, Alta.||W, 4-2||HockeyTV|
|Wed., Dec. 12||Canada East||R.J. Lalonde Arena||Bonnyville, Alta.||W, 7-3||HockeyTV|
|Fri., Dec. 14||Russia||R.J. Lalonde Arena||Bonnyville, Alta.||L, 3-4||HockeyTV|
|Sat., Dec. 15||Canada West (Semifinal)||R.J. Lalonde Arena||Bonnyville, Alta.||OTW, 3-2||HockeyTV|
|Sun., Dec. 16||Russia (Championship)||R.J. Lalonde Arena||Bonnyville, Alta.||W, 2-0||--|