AMERICANS SURVIVE RUSSIA, WILL PLAY FOR GOLD
SUMMERSIDE, P.E.I. – For the fourth time in as many years, the gold medal game at the World Junior A Challenge will be a North American affair.
Shane Berschbach, Jeff Costello and Colten St. Clair all had a goal and an assist as the United States earned the right to defend its 2008 gold with a 6-3 win over Russia in Friday’s first semifinal at Molson Canadian Arena at CUP.
The U.S. now awaits the outcome of Friday’s late semi between Canada East and Canada West (7 p.m. AT) to find out who it will face in Sunday’s gold medal game (5 p.m. AT, TSN2). The Americans knocked off Canada West to win gold last year, while the two Canadian entries met in the final game in 2006 and 2007.
Russia gave the start in goal to Sergey Kostenko, who stonewalled Canada West in the tournament opener last Sunday, making 32 saves in a 2-1 Russian win. He continued his hot play early as the U.S. outshot the Russians 12-0 in the early going.
Connor Brickley finally solved the Russian netminder 11:25 in, banking a shot off Kostenko’s skate and in for a 1-0 lead.
That goal seemed to rattle Kostenko, who allowed a power play goal from Berschbach, his fourth goal with the man advantage in the tournament – one off the WJAC record – and a nifty deflection from Costello for a 3-0 U.S. lead after 20 minutes.
It looked to be a runaway early in the second period as Nick Mattson converted on the power play to make it 4-0, but the Russians, who made the semifinals in their first two appearances before settling for fifth place last year, came to life in the second half of the game.
First it was Alexey Marchenko sneaking a shot by U.S. goaltender Eric Mihalik to get the European side on the board, followed by Nail Yakupov one-handing a shot from his stomach through Mihalik’s legs less than four minutes later.
Despite being outshot 24-11 through two periods, it was the Russians who had the momentum entering the third, and they cut the lead to one when Ignat Zemchenko scored his team’s third power play goal of the game just 87 seconds into the final frame.
But that would be as close as the Russians would come, thanks to two late penalties which sealed their fate. Beau Bennett scored on a 5-on-3 and St. Clair rounded out the scoring with 11 seconds to go to finally put the game out of reach.
The loss sends the Russians to the bronze medal game (Sunday, 1 p.m. AT) for the third time in four years, where it will take on whichever of the Canadian teams come out on the short end of their final-four showdown.
|Arena||Credit Union Place||City, Country||Summerside, P.E.I.|
|Month / Day / Year||11/06/2009||Time||02:00 PM AT|
|United States (USA)||3||1||2||6|
|United States||30 Eric Mihalik||On 1/00:00||Off 3/20:00|
|Russia||1 Sergey Kostenko||On 1/00:00||Off 3/20:00|
|Shots on Goal||1||2||3||Total|
|Player of the Game|
|United States||11 Jeff Costello|
|Russia||5 Alexy Marchenko|