USA Loses U18 Semifinal in Shootout

The US will not be playing for gold at the 2019 IIHF U18 World Championship. In a bit of a stunner, the Americans lost in a shootout to Russia, 3-2, in the semifinals, sending the Russians to the gold medal game against either Canada or Sweden.

After a scoreless first period that did feature 10 minutes of penalties for the Russians – with Jack Hughes taking the only penalty for the US in the frame (an interference call) – the Russians took the lead in the second.

The second period go ahead goal came shorthanded for Russia. Ivan Rogov was called for a late hit at 18:12 of the second and just 12 seconds into killing the penalty, Russia got on the board. Rodion Amirov scored at 18:24 to make it 1-0 Russia.

A seven minute flurry of activity in the third left us tied again. It began when Cole Caufield scored to tie the game at one 12 seconds into the third frame. Jack Hughes got the primary assist, his only point on the afternoon, while Cam York got the other assist.

Three minutes and four seconds later, the Americans took their first (and, as it turned out, only) lead of the day when Caufield scored again to make it 2-1 USA.

But it only took Russia 4:11 to get that one back. Semyon Chistyakov leveled the game at two when he scored at 7:27. And then we settled in for a scoreless rest of the third. When the horn sounded, it would be overtime.

And this one had some drama. With 46 seconds left in the OT period, Russia took a bench minor for too many men on the ice. The Americans were poised to win it, but time ran out on them and we would go to a shootout to settle things.

Alex Turcotte of the USA went first, but lost the puck off of his stick. Yegor Chinakhov was stopped by US goalie Spencer Knight. Caufield then went and he too lost control of the puck. Vasili Podkolzin’s shot went wide of Knight and Hughes was up. He also lost the puck and it was Amirov’s turn. He scored and the USA’s Trevor Zegras went. He was stopped by Russian goalie Yaroslav Askarov. Areseni Gritsyuk was stopped by Knight and it was up to Matthew Boldy to keep the US alive. His attempt was saved by Askarov and Russia picked up the 3-2 victory.

For the Americans, a team that had overwhelmed their opponents by blitzing them offensively, this was a shocker.

Including the shootout, Knight stopped 31 of 34 Russian shot attempts while Askarov made a phenomenal 40 saves on 42 American shots on goal.

Hughes had the assist for a point, the two penalty minutes, seven total shots on goal and an even plus/minus rating.

The USA will now take on the winner of the Canada-Sweden game, which is ongoing now and tied up at two. That game will be tomorrow, the 28th and be for the bronze medal.

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