After narrowly losing to rival Canada, 3-2, on Dec. 31, the U.S. National Junior Team exits the International Ice Hockey Federation's World Junior Championships Thursday. Team USA lost to Russia, 5-3, in the tournament's quarterfinals. University of Minnesota head coach Don Lucia, along with Gophers Hudson Fasching and Brady Skjei, Hastings native Zach Stepan, and St. Cloud State University head coach Bob Motzko were a part of the squad hoping for the USA's fourth medal in five years.
Full press release from USA Hockey below.
MALMO, Sweden -- Stefan Matteau (Chicago, Ill.), Ryan Hartman (West Dundee, Ill.) and Nic Kerdiles (Irvine, Calif./University of Wisconsin) scored first-period goal, but the U.S. National Junior Team fell to Russia, 5-3, in the quarterfinal round of the 2014 International Ice Hockey Federation World Junior Championship here today.
The United States led 3-2 after the first period, but allowed two power-play goals in the second stanza and an empty-netter in the final minute.
"The game changed in teh 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."
With the U.S. trailing 1-0, Matteau knocked the puck off the goal line at 8:50 to tie the score after Jack Eichel (North Chelmsford, Mass.) threw it on net from the left edge of the crease. Then, following Russia's second goal, Hartman drove into the zone, took a pass from Matteau in the slot and beat Russian goaltender Andrei Vasilevski with a backhander to make it 2-2. Kerdiles then scored at 16:51 and put Team USA out front, 3-2. After battling the puck out of just inside the offensive blue line, Kerdiles fired a fluttering shot from the slot that beat Vasilevski between his right arm and body.
Team Russia responded with a pair of five-on-three, power-play tallies in the 1:01 span midway through the second period to take a 4-3 edge in the final stanza. Team USA pressured for the equalizer in the third period, but an empty-net marker with 28 seconds remaining in regulation capped the scoring and secured the Russian victory.
Goaltender Jon Gilles (South Portland, Maine/Providence College) finished with 20 saves.