Russia Powers Past USA En Route to Semi’s

(courtesy of Francois Laplante/HHOF-IIHF Images)

After coming down to earth with two straight defeats to their neighbors to the north, Russia fell from the top spot of group B to third, setting up a date with the reigning champs in Team USA. Russia came out of the gate swinging and found themselves up 1-0 early thanks to Sabres center Mikhail Grigorenko who tallied his fourth goal of the tournament. The lead was short lived as Stefan Matteau evened things up for the Americans shortly thereafter in what would be a topsy turvy first period.

Russia’s response came almost immediately with Rangers prospect Pavel Buchnevich poking home a loose rebound into the US net. However, the Americans refused to go quietly and stormed back with two unanswered goals that Russian netminder Andrei Vasilevski would’ve loved to keep out. The Lightning prospect who is playing in his third World Jr’s, would shut the door the rest of the way by making key saves and showing why he’s the highest drafted Russian goalie of all-time.

Trailing 3-2 heading into the second period, Russia used consecutive 5 on 3 man advantages to not only tie the game but also take the lead. Goals by Nikita Zadorov tilted the ice in Russia’s favor with two near carbon copy blasts. A defensive slip up allowed Buchnevich to ice the game with an empty net goal and improved Russia’s record against the US to 6-0 in elimination rounds. Russia now awaits the winner of Sweden/Slovakia in the semi-final round. It was Sweden last year who ended Russia’s hopes of winning gold on home ice and they would surely relish the opportunity to return the favor.

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