USA Hangs On to Beat Russia

The Americans did something they haven’t been able to do since 2007: They beat Russia. In a game that will have a big impact on how things end up in Group B, the Americans and Russians went back and forth in a battle to basically keep pace with Canada.

World Junior Championship Players to Watch
Clayton Keller (courtesy U.S. National Development Team)

After defeating Slovakia in the later game on Wednesday, the US were in a position to be fatigued playing about 16 hours after they finished. That was not the case as they came out of the gate quickly. They controlled the pace of the game for most of the first half of the first period. Russia ended up taking three penalties in the period as a result of the American’s speed Clayton Keller opened the scoring at the 4:14 mark and it looked like the Americans could add to that lead. However, at the 11:59 mark, Kirill Urakov scored a shorthanded goal to tie the game up. The score stayed that way until the end of the first period.

Another Quick Start

The US came right back in the second period, once again scoring in the first five minutes of a period. This time it was Colin White taking a nice feed from Charlie McAvoy on the American’s fourth power play and giving his team a 2-1 lead. Seven minutes later, Troy Terry scored his second of the tournament to extend the US lead to two goals. The Americans looked to have the game in hand.

Then McAvoy took an interference call that was iffy at best. Russia was able to take advantage of the call as Kirill Kaprizov scored his fifth goal of the tournament, bringing the score to 3-2 with just under three minutes left in the period.

In the third period, try as the Russians did, they were not able to tie the game. They even gave the US a good chance to extend the lead as Tage Thompson was given a penalty shot with just a minute and a half left in the game. Luckily, Ilya Samsanov was up to the task and stopped it. They pulled Samsonov with only 22 seconds remaining and it was not enough as Team USA held on for the 3-2 final.

The win ensures that the US will finish no worse than second place in Groub B.

Luke Kunin & Jeremy Bracco Speak

American captain Kunin and Bracco spoke about the importance of getting off to the quick start and Keller’s opening goal.


It was big. We had to regroup real quick. Nutrition and the rest was key and I thought the boys did a really good job of coming out and playing a game we wanted to play.


Yeah, Kell’s got a good look. He made a great move and to get the first goal is always huge in any game. Coming off only 15-16 hours between each game, we wanted a good start and we got that, so that was huge.

The American’s next game is on New Year’s Eve as they take on Canada for what will probably be the group lead. Russia plays Slovakia in the later game the same day.