RUSSIA SHUTS DOWN AMERICAN OFFENCE, WINS U17 GOLD
SARNIA, Ont. – Maxim Bain scored in the first period, Alexander Yakovenko added a goal in the second, and Russia won the gold medal at the 2014 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge with a 2-1 win over the United States on Saturday night.
It’s the third time Russia has won under-17 gold, and the second time it has topped the U.S. in the final; the Russians beat the Americans 7-5 in the 2012 gold medal game in Windsor, Ont.
Maxim Kalyayev was a stand-out in the Russian goal, finishing with 21 saves.
The lone U.S. goal came unassisted off the stick of Max Jones late in the third period.
The Americans, as they have all tournament, came out firing, hitting a cross bar in the opening minutes. But it was Russia that would strike first with two minutes left in the first; Vitali Abramov forced a turnover behind the U.S. net, and a loose puck popped out to Bain, who beat goaltender Jake Oettinger for a 1-0 lead.
Yakovenko made it a two-goal lead at the 5:42 mark of the second, taking a pass from German Rubtsov and unleashing a rocket of a slap shot that went off the post and in past the blocker of Oettinger.
That was all the offence the Russians needed thanks to Kalyayev and a shutdown defence that blocked shot after shot and held the vaunted American offence – which included the tournament’s top two scorers, Clayton Keller (13 points) and Jones (11 points) – to just a single goal.
The U.S. had life late in the third period, with a two-man advantage for 57 seconds and a power play for the final four minutes, but it couldn’t find a way past Kalyayev at five-on-three.
Jones finally got the U.S. on the board with 90 seconds left, surprising Kalyayev with a quick shot that found space between the Russian goaltender’s feet, but that would be it for the Americans.
A frantic push with Oettinger on the bench came up short, and the U.S. had to settle for a seventh silver medal – the most all-time – while seeing its 12-game winning streak snapped.
The last three games the Americans have lost at the U17 tournament have all been to Russia: the 2012 gold medal game, 2013 semifinal, and Saturday night.
The game featured four players who earned berths on the tournament all-star team; Keller and Jones were joined by Russian forward Dmitri Sokolov and U.S. defenceman Chad Krys.