Although Team USA's defense lacks some of the star power that was on hand at the U18 World Junior Championship last year in the Czech Republic, this year's group has played very well during the team's march to their semi-final meeting with Russia.
Last year, names like Seth Jones and Jacob Trouba were a part of the defense on that gold medal-winning outfit. But this year's defensive grouping lacks that high-end talent, and is instead comprised of defenders more likely to sport a solid plus/minus rating rather than offensive numbers more suited to a scoring forward.
One of this year's unheralded USA defensemen is Steve Santini, who spent the 2012-13 season playing for the U.S. NTDP squad. Santini has registered no points to this point of the U18 WJC, but he has posted a +8 rating while averaging 21:17 of playing time through five games.
To be sure, Santini is no slouch as he is rated as a potential first round selection for the 2013 NHL Draft. But his hard-nosed, non-flashy approach to the game seems to be a perfect summation of how this U.S. defensive group has performed over the course of this tournament.
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