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U.S. fails to medal for second straight year at WJC

Friday, 01.02.2015 / 6:16 PM / 2015 World Junior Championship
By Sean Farrell - NHL.com Correspondent

MONTREAL -- Jack Eichel and the United States were eliminated from the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship on Friday, marking the second straight year that they will not be competing for a medal at the tournament.

The United States lost 3-2 against Russia in their quarterfinal game at Bell Centre. Russia won 5-3 in a 2014 WJC quarterfinal against the United States, which won gold in 2012, but will not play for a medal for the third time in four years. 

Eichel, a consensus top-two pick in the 2015 NHL Draft, had an assist on Anthony DeAngelo's power-play goal Friday and finished the tournament with one goal and three assists in five games.

"I don't think I did enough. I don't think we did enough as a team," Eichel said. "You're never satisfied with yourself, especially when you lose in the quarterfinals. I could have buried more chances and been a little better in my own zone. I definitely can take a lot out of this tournament and get better moving forward."

Eichel is one of five U.S. players who lost to Russia last year in Malmo, Sweden.

DeAngelo (Tampa Bay Lightning) believed that the United States was strong enough to compete for the gold medal.

"It's definitely not what we expected, not what we were looking for, so it's tough to swallow," DeAngelo said. "We thought we were just as good as any team in this tournament, and I still do, but we're not going to have a chance to show it, so it is what it is now."

The United States (2-1-0-2) outscored its opponents 11-1 while winning its first three games for the sixth time in eight years. A 5-3 loss to Canada on New Year's Eve meant a second place finish in Group A that set up a quarterfinal rematch against Russia, which finished third in Group B in Toronto.

The United States was the least-penalized team through the preliminary round with 13 minors for 26 penalty minutes. It took eight penalties Friday against Russia. Five of those were called in the first period, including minors 21 seconds apart to Tyler Motte (Chicago Blackhawks) and Ryan Collins (Columbus Blue Jackets) before Russia scored on a 5-on-3 power play at 2:31.

"One of our strengths was our depth," U.S coach Mark Osiecki said. "Unfotunately we couldnt' show that [Friday]."

Defenseman Will Butcher (Colorado Avalanche), and forwards Dylan Larkin (Detroit Red Wings) and Hudson Fasching (Buffalo Sabres) were named the United States' top three players of the 2015 WJC.

Larkin led the United States with five goals and seven points in five games, and Fasching had a goal and two assists.

Butcher assisted on DeAngelo's power-play goal Friday for his first point of the tournament.

"I thought we had a whole other level we could have reached," goalie Thatcher Demko (Vancouver Canucks) said. "That being said, it's a short tournament, and you don't have the luxury of having time to sort those things out. You kind of have to hit your stride a little earlier than we did."

Forward Auston Matthews, a 2016 NHL Draft prospect, is among the leading candidates to compete for the United States at the 2016 WJC in Helsinki. Matthews had a goal and two assists in his WJC debut.

"Overall we like the group that was in that locker room," Osiecki said. "Maybe our youth showed up a little bit, but we like the way that they put an effort in. They were prepared [Friday] and I think when they came out I think they were focused and they've got to walk out of that locker room with their heads held high."

Russia eliminates United States at World Juniors

MONTREAL Russia coach Valeri Bragin knew no one expected his team to defeat the United States in the quarterfinals of the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship on Friday. In fact, he felt that assessment was pretty accurate. In spite of those long odds, Russia advanced to the semifinals of the 2015 WJC for a second straight year at the expense of the U.S., winning 3-2 behind 39 saves from goaltender Igor Shesterkin (New York Rangers).

Everyone thought the Russian team was the underdog, and I agreed with that, Bragin said. The American team has a lot of skilled players, is well organized on all lines. But at the start of the game, we capitalized on our chances on the power play, then scored a second time, had some more chances and finally deserved to win.

Ivan Barbashev (St. Louis Blues), Sergey Tolchinsky (Carolina Hurricanes) and Alexander Sharov scored for Russia, which will face Sweden in the semifinals at Air Canada Centre in Toronto on Sunday.

This win means a lot for us, Barbashev said. We knew all the country was watching the game, all Russia, and we knew that it was a very important game.

Anthony DeAngelo (Tampa Bay Lightning) and defenseman Zach Werenski (2015 draft eligible) responded for the U.S., which lost 5-3 to Russia in the quarterfinals of the 2014 WJC in Malmo, Sweden.

Its definitely not what we came in looking for, DeAngelo said. We thought we were going to be able to compete for the gold, but it just wasnt our year.

This is the third time in four years the U.S. will not play for a medal at the WJC, whereas Russia is guaranteed to play for a medal at this tournament for a fifth straight year.

I felt we were a family, a team, Tolchinsky said. We played with heart. We had a lot of urgency and I think it was a very good game for us.

The U.S. entered the game as the least penalized team in the tournament, but that trend did not last into the medal round. The U.S. was called for five minor penalties in the first period alone and eight in the game after taking a tournament-low 13 penalties in four games coming in.

We probably shot ourselves in the foot, U.S. coach Mark Osiecki said. We talked about it as a staff [Thursday] of how disciplined we have been, and they did a great job with that up until that point.

For whatever reason, it went the other way [Friday].

The first period parade to the penalty box gave a jolt of momentum to Russia and allowed it to enter the first intermission with a 2-0 lead.

The lack of U.S. discipline began right off the opening faceoff, with Tyler Motte (Chicago Blackhawks) and Ryan Collins (Columbus Blue Jackets) being called for penalties 31 seconds apart before the game was two minutes old.

We knew they were a skilled team and we wanted to go stick on puck, U.S. captain Jack Eichel said. There were a couple of stick penalties. Weve just got to move our feet. Its over and done with now, cant really complain.

Barbashev scored on the ensuing two-man advantage, poking home a rebound off a goal mouth scramble in front of U.S. goalie Thatcher Demko (Vancouver Canucks) at 2:31 of the first period.

Sharov gave Russia a 2-0 lead nine seconds after an offensive zone penalty to Hudson Fasching (Buffalo Sabres) had expired. A centering pass by Russia forward Maxim Mamin hit off the skate of U.S. defenseman Brandon Carlo (2015 draft eligible), forcing Demko to make a save. The rebound bounced right to Sharov, who scored at 15:25 of the opening period.

The U.S. took two more penalties by the midway point of the second period, but its own power play cut the deficit in half when DeAngelo scored on a bullet from the point during a two-man advantage at 12:43 of the period.

It was the United States third power-play goal of the tournament, and it failed to capitalize on another two-man advantage in the third period that lasted 1:18.

We took too many penalties, Eichel said. There were some questionable calls, but we didnt capitalize on our power plays or the 5-on-3 in the third period. That was the difference tonight.

Tolchinsky made it 3-1 early in the third period on Russias eighth power play of the game. His shot from the slot deflected off the stick of U.S. forward Dylan Larkin (Detroit Red Wings) and floated past Demko at 1:27 of the third. Larkin, who was the best player for the U.S. in this tournament and this game, put both hands to his face in frustration as soon as the red light went on behind Demko.

Hes a true pro, right now, at his age, Osiecki said of Larkin. The way he prepares himself, the way he educates himself. Hes constantly watching his shifts, he wants to get better. Hes watching technique on faceoffs and trying to get better.

But the way he approaches the game right now at a young age, hes a true pro.

The U.S. made it 3-2 at 8:56 of the third period when Werenskis wrist shot from the point beat Shesterkin, who appeared to be screened. But the U.S. was unable to come all the way back in spite of a strong third period push, outshooting Russia 20-5 over the final 20 minutes.

[Shesterkin] is just a great goalie. He saved us, Tolchinsky said. He's a great guy and he's a big part of our team. Thanks a lot to him.

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