A couple of five-on-three power play goals scored one minute and one second apart in the latter half of the second period swung the contest and shutout netminding the rest of the way propelled RUSSIA to a 5-3 triumph over the defending gold medalist UNITED STATES in the first of four quarterfinal matches at the 2014 IIHF World Junior Championships in Malmo, Sweden.
After twice falling behind in the first period, the Americans took advantage of some rather poor Russian goaltending to assume a 3-2 lead as the players skated off for the intermission. Russia, who had finished third in Group B after defeating Norway and Switzerland but losing to Finland and Sweden, scored first when center MIKHAIL GRIGORENKO from the National Hockey League’s Buffalo Sabres scored his fourth goal at this year’s annual tournament for the planet’s best players under the age of 20 years with a shot from close range. The United States struck back almost three minutes later when left wing STEFAN MATTEAU, the first round selection (# 29 overall) of the New Jersey Devils at the 2012 NHL Draft who now skates for the American Hockey League farm club in Albany, stabbed a loose puck near the goal line home after center JACK EICHEL, the talented 17-year-old from Chelmsford, Massachusetts, who will attend Boston University next fall, had created the dangerous chance with a wraparound move from behind the net.
Russia very quickly regained the lead only 21 seconds later when right wing PAVEL BUCHNEVICH of Kontinental Hockey League club Severstal Cherepovets, the third round pick (# 75 overall) of the New York Rangers at the 2013 NHL Draft, found the back of the American net. But then the United States, who fired 17 shots on target in a wild first period that saw the two teams combine for no less than 30 official attempts, equalized when right wing RYAN HARTMAN of the Ontario Hockey League’s Plymouth Whalers, the 19-year-old who the first round choice of the Chicago Black Hawks at the 2013 NHL Draft, scored his second goal here in Sweden on the backhand. And American left wing NIC KERDILES from the University of Wisconsin, the 19-year-old who was taken in the second round choice (# 36 overall) of the 2012 NHL Draft by the Anaheim Ducks, netted his second goal of this year’s World Junior Championships with a knuckleball-type effort after making an outstanding play at the Russian blue line settle the puck out of the air with his stick.
Russia defenseman NIKITA ZADOROV (16), the dynamic 18-year-old who skated seven games for the Buffalo Sabres in the National Hockey League before being assigned to the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League in the Canadian junior system, and captain ANTON SLEPYSHEV (9), the third round pick (# 88 overall) of the Edmonton Oilers at the 2013 NHL Draft who had three assists in the victory over the defending gold medalists, celebrate in the quarterfinal match with the United States at the 2014 IIHF World Junior Championships in Malmo, Sweden.
The second period progressed well enough for the tournament’s reigning champions but the United States failed to extend its lead and would come to regret this soon enough. The Americans wasted two opportunities with the power play in the middle session before running into penalty trouble, themselves, roughly twelve minutes in. Within short order both Matteau and THOMAS DI PAULI, the University of Notre Dame right wing who was chosen in the fourth round (# 100 overall) of the 2012 NHL Draft by the Washington Capitals, were languishing in the sin bin and the Russians pounced twenty seconds later.
ANTON SLEPYSHEV, the Salavat Yulayev Ufa left wing who was playing the left point, slid a square pass over to his partner NIKITA ZADOROV at the top of the right face-off circle and the promising Russian defenseman simply rifled the puck right past United States goaltender JON GILLIES of Providence College, the 19-year-old who was tabbed in the third round (# 75 overall) of the 2012 NHL Draft by the Calgary Flames.
A mere five seconds thereafter, the United States again found itself with two players sitting in the penalty box after STEVE SANTINI, the Boston College defenseman who was reserved by the New Jersey Devils in the second round (# 42 overall) of the 2013 NHL Draft, was given a two-minute minor for delaying the game. Once again, the Russian five-on-three power play produced the same result on a play that was almost identical to the first strike — the captain Slepyshev provided a blue line feed for the first round pick (# 16 overall) of the Buffalo Sabres at the 2013 NHL Draft. To beat Gillies on this occasion, though, Zadorov hammered his one-timer from the central point area in between the face-off circles to score his third goal of this 2014 IIHF World Junior Championships.
United States right wing HUDSON FASCHING (22), the freshman from the University of Minnesota who was tabbed by the Los Angeles Kings in the fourth round (# 118 overall) of the 2013 NHL Draft this past summer, is turned away by Russia goaltender ANDREI VASILEVSKI of Kontinental Hockey League club Salavat Yulayev Ufa during the 2014 IIHF World Junior Championships quarterfinal contest at the Malmo Isstadion in Sweden.
The Russians, who also defeated the United States on home ice at the 2013 IIHF World Junior Championships twelve months ago, spent the third period focusing on the defensive aspects of its game while protecting what had already been gained. Indeed, head coach MIKHAIL VARNAKOV’s troops only generated three shots on target over the final twenty minutes of play. The United States, however, continued to shoot itself in the foot by taking two more penalties early in the last stanza and, thus, were forced to spend valuable time in its own end.
The Americans actually had two more chances of its own with the power play in the last period but were still unable to level terms. This from the team that had scored more power play goals (11) than any other country at this tournament. At least part of this was due to the improved form of Russia netminder ANDREI VASILEVSKI of Salavat Yulayev Ufa, the 19-year-old who was the first round selection (# 19 overall) of the Tampa Bay Lightning at the 2012 NHL Draft. Vasilevski, who made four appearances (1.81 avg, .950 svpct) for bronze medalist Russia at the 2013 IIHF World Junior Championships but did not play against the United States in Ufa last season, finished with thirty saves against the Americans at Malmo.
The Russians ultimately salted the game away with less than half a minute remaining when Buchnevich shot the puck into an empty net to score his second goal at this tournament in Sweden but then things got a bit ugly when the New York Rangers prospect headed straight for the United States bench in order to gloat. For his troubles, the first line right wing for Russia got what appeared to be a stick in the face from a no nonsense American player standing up along the bench and a ten-minute misconduct penalty from the unimpressed match referees. There was bad blood at the bench area at the conclusion of the quarterfinal match at the Malmo Isstadion with several Russian players chirping and making obvious hand gestures, as well.
To his credit, Grigorenko apologized to the media on behalf of some of his teammates after the game … but the fact remained that Russia had earned the right to meet the host nation Sweden in the semifinal round of the 2014 IIHF World Junior Championships.
Russia right wing PAVEL BUCHNEVICH (19) of Severstal Cherepovets intentionally but needlessly skates right past the United States bench moments after scoring an empty net goal to eliminate the Americans at the quarterfinal stage of the 2014 IIHF World Championships in Malmo, Sweden.
January 2, 2014
2014 IIHF World Junior Championships – Quarterfinal
Malmo Isstadion – Attendance : 1,876
RUSSIA 5 – UNITED STATES 3
06:17 … RUS – Grigorenko (Slepyshev)
08:50 … USA – Matteau (Eichel, Skjei)
09:11 … RUS – Buchnevich (Mironov)
11:23 … USA – Hartman (Matteau)
16:51 … USA – Kerdiles (Barber)
33:15 … RUS – Zadorov (Slepyshev) – ppg
34:16 … RUS – Zadorov (Slepyshev) – ppg
59:32 … RUS – Buchnevich (unassisted) – eng
shots-on-goal : USA 33 ( 17 + 7 + 9 ) – RUS 25 ( 13 + 9 + 3 )
penalty minutes : USA 12 – RUS 10 (plus two 10-minute misconducts)
referees : Kubus (Slovakia) and Linde (Sweden)
RUSSIA : Vasilevski – Mironov, Zadorov ; Lyubushkin, Tryamkin ; Bereglasov, Maslov ; Vasiliev – Slepyshev, Grigorenko, Buchnevich ; Zhafyanov, Osnovin, Barabanov ; Barbashev, Yakimov, Khlopotov ; Zykov, Busarov, Gimatov ; Skadnichenko
UNITED STATES : Gillies – Skjei, Carrick ; Butcher, Santini ; Slavin, Grzelcyk ; McCoshen – Kerdiles, O’Regan, Barber ; Matteau, Eichel, Hartman ; Erne, Copp, Fasching ; Hinostroza, Shore, Di Pauli ; Stepan