Thursday, January 2, 2014

U.S. Eliminated with WJC Loss to Russia

There will be no gold medal repeat for Team USA.

The U.S. dropped a 5-3 decision to Russia in a quarterfinal match at the 2014 IIHF Under-20 World Junior Championship today in Malmo, Sweden. The loss leaves the Americans, who won gold last year in Russia, albeit with a much different lineup, at 3-2-0 overall in the tournament and out of medal contention for the first time since 2012.

A 3-2 U.S. lead after one period today didn't stand up. Stephane Matteau scored for the second straight game for the Americans, sandwiching a goal between two Russian scores before Ryan Hartman and Nic Kerdiles (Wisconsin) scored just under five-and-a-half minutes apart to put the U.S. ahead.

That was it for the American offensive effort, however, as Nikita Zadorov scored two second period power-play goals, both on 5-on-3 advantages, for the Russians, who added an empty-netter with 28 seconds remaining in regulation.

Jon Gillies (Providence) made 20 saves for Team USA, which outshot Russia, 33-25, but couldn't connect in five power-play attempts. The U.S. also had 10 giveaways in its own defensive zone, according to the NHL Network.

After winning its first three round-robin games by a combined score of 19-4 against the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Germany, things started to unravel for the Americans in Tuesday's 3-2 loss to Canada. That defeat left the U.S. one point behind the Canadians in the Group 'A' final preliminary standings and matched it up against the Russians in the quarterfinals, against whom Team USA was 0-4 in WJC playoff competition entering Thursday's contest.

Now that mark is 0-5 and the Americans are headed home, while the Russians will face host Sweden in a semifinal match. The winner will meet the victor of Canada-Finland for the gold medal that last year belonged to the U.S.

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