Team USA Upended By Canada, Finishes Second in Group
Will Face Russia in Thursday's Quarterfinals
CHN Staff Report
MALMO, Sweden The annual United States vs. Canada game on New Year's Eve at the World Junior Championships, has become one of the must-see moments of the year. And this year's game did not disappoint again, except for those hoping Team USA would win.
Canada scored a pair of third-period power-play goals and held on for a 3-2 win, closing out pool play. The win gave Canada first place in Group A, with the U.S. getting second.
The United States will face Russia, which was third place in Group B, in the quarterfinals Thursday at 6 a.m. ET.
Don Lucia, head coach of Team USA and at the University of Minnesota, thought his team played hard and played well, but just lost the special teams battle.
"Both teams really competed from start to finish," Lucia said, head coach of the U.S. National Junior Team. "It was a well-played game. There was a lot of hard ice out there all night long. We certainly had our chances but couldn't get that tying goal. It was the first game we were minus in special teams and that ended up being the difference in the game."
Indeed, the U.S. heavily outshot Canada during large stretches, particularly the first period and the last 10 minutes of the game, when pressing to tie. The final shots were 26-24 Team USA.
Riley Barber, who plays at Miami, scored the game's first goal just after a 4-on-4 ended, making it technically a shorthanded goal. A Nic Kerdiles (Wisconsin) shot from the right side bounced off the end wall right to Jaccob Slavin (Colorado College) at bottom of the left circle. Slavin tried to shoot, but the attempt was partially blocked and landed on the stick of Barber behind the goal. He gathered the puck, stepped out from behind the net and beat Canadian goaltender Zachary Fucale just inside near-side pipe.
Canada wound up scoring three straight, before the U.S. started to rally. Not until there was just 2:45 left in regulation, however, could Team USA get within one goal, when Stefan Matteau scored on a slapper.
The U.S. has medaled in three of the last four IIHF World Junior Championships, including gold in 2013 and 2010 and bronze in 2011.