Team USA Eliminated by Russia in World Juniors
CHN Staff Report
MALMO, Sweden A pair of 5-on-3 goals in the second period gave Russia a lead it never relinquished, as the United States was eliminated in the quarterfinals of the World Junior Championships.
One year after winning a gold medal, Team USA will not earn any medals this time around.
Stefan Matteau, Ryan Hartman and Nic Kerdiles (Wisconsin) scored first-period goals to give the U.S. a 3-2 lead. But the second period spelled doom for the Americans after three straight penalties. The last one was a delay of game, when defenseman Steve Santini tried to clear the zone during a penalty kill, and instead shot it over the glass on the opposite end of the ice.
"The game changed in that five-minute segment (in the second period)," said Don Lucia, head coach of the U.S. National Junior Team. "We went from being on the power play, up 3-2, to the consecutive five-on-three Russian power plays where they made two great shots. That's where the game changed."
Both of Russia's 5-on-3 goals were scored on one-timers by Nikita Zodorov, a 6-foot-5 defenseman from Moscow who was the Buffalo Sabres' first-round pick (16th overall) in last year's NHL Draft.
The U.S. had a pair of power plays in the third period, but couldn't convert, and Russia added an empty netter in the final minute. Team USA was 0 for its last 11 on the power play in the tournament.
"We had an opportunity to tie the game and didn't execute," Barber said. "That's on the power play (unit)."
Lucia, the Minnesota head coach, was as disappointed as anyone, but not in the team's effort.
"I thought the guys gave us everything they had and competed well in this tournament," Lucia said. "I can't look up and down the lineup and say, 'Boy, this guy had a poor tournament.' I thought the guys gave us everything they had, and they competed well every game. Other than taking out 10 minutes from this tournament, we played the way I hoped we would play."
Said Santini, "All all of us younger guys have to learn from this and come back next year."