Team USA was looking to avenge being ousted by the Russians at the past two U20 tournaments, but Russia had other ideas for their semi-final showdown at the 2016 IIHF World Junior Championship as they eked out a 2-1 win to move on to the gold medal game and a date with host Finland.
In a script that played out similarly to the Finland-Sweden semi-final match, the USA took the 1-0 first period lead on a goal by Christian Dvorak (ARI), much as Sweden had done in their loss to Finland. And, just as Finland did in their win, the Russians scored a pair of second period goals in quick succession to take a 2-1 lead that they never relinquished. Russia (a la Finland) kept scoring chances low while relying on goaltender Ilya Samsonov (WSH) to turn away the few scoring chances that the USA could muster.
Over the course of this WJC, the USA’s defensive group has played well in front of goaltenders Alex Nedeljkovic (CAR) and Brandon Halverson (NYR). Despite the loss to Russia, the U.S. has surrendered just seven goals in the six games they have played and, while goaltending has certainly played a part in the low goals-against total, the defenders have played their part in keeping other teams at bay.
Two of those defensemen are Charlie McAvoy (2016), who plays for Boston University, and Zach Werenski, who has been playing for the University of Michigan but is rumored to be moving on from the college game. Both players spoke with Hockey’s Future and other media following the loss to Russia, with their comments being included in this HF video.
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