Following America’s 8-0 domination of Germany in their first game of the World Junior Championship, they were unable to find another win against host country Russia, losing 2-1.
Obviously, the talent and competition level of the Russian team was higher than the Germans. Russian goalie Andrei Makarov, who was chosen as the best player of the game for his side and is free agent property of the Buffalo Sabres, was a big part of the win. The defense also worked very well in front of Makarov and didn’t give up even remotely as much time and space to scoring threats like Alex Galchenyuk and J.T. Miller.
In the end, America’s lone goal came from from a defenseman, Jacob Trouba, though Galchenyuk assisted.
The American team was penalized four different times in the first period–leading to a Russian power play goal in the first instance–but then the referees seemed to calm down and just let them play. However, Russia found itself in trouble late in the game again. In their opener against Slovakia, a double minor for crosschecking to the face allowed the Slovaks to tie the game and take a point away from the later-victorious Russia. This time, Kirill Kapustin got a 10-minute misconduct for checking from behind and gave Team USA the chance to tie it up late on a power play.
Well, it didn’t happen, thanks in part to the Americans having difficulty merely keeping the puck in the offensive zone. Late last night Eastern time, USA Hockey sent Matt Grzelcyk home and chose Patrick Sieloff to complete the defensive lineup. I maintain that this was a mistake on their part, especially considering the team’s weakness on the man advantage. Once again, they were able to put away one power play goal, but there were so many frustrating missed chances as well, especially that one final opportunity.
John Gibson did make some pretty heartstopping saves at times, Seth Jones continued to stand out and the Americans did hold Russia to one goal when the host team could have stomped them. Still, missing out on those three points in the standings isn’t exactly a good thing for a U.S. team aching to earn some hardware this year.
Consider that their next opponent is the powerhouse Canada, which just beat Slovakia 6-3. Team USA has a day off before facing them on Dec. 30 at 4:30 a.m. Eastern. That is definitely, absolutely going to be a huge game.