By – IIHF.com
Troy Terry scored three shootout goals to give the U.S. a 4-3 semi-final win over Russia. It’s the first U.S. playoff win over Russia in World Junior history.
In the best-of-five shootout, which had 14 shots in total, Terry’s hat trick feat equalled that of Jonathan Toews in the 2007 semi-final when Canada beat the United States 2-1.
“He has great skill, great hands,” U.S. defenceman Charlie McAvoy said of Terry, who plays for the University of Denver. “He’s got ice in his veins, and he proved that tonight.”
The Americans will face the winner of Sweden-Canada in Thursday’s gold medal game at the Bell Centre, while Russia goes for bronze.
“I’ve never been a part of something like this,” said U.S. scoring leader Clayton Keller. “It’s crazy. It’s unbelievable to get the win and go for the gold medal tomorrow.
This was one of the most exciting games of the 2017 World Juniors, a fitting showdown between these two old adversaries in Montreal.
In regulation, Colin White scored twice and captain Luke Kunin added a single for the Americans. Keller had two assists. For Russia, Denis Guryanov scored twice and Kirill Kaprizov had the other goal. Guryanov also put two pucks in during the shootout.
Russian goalie Ilya Samsonov let in a couple of shaky goals, but like his U.S. counterpart Tyler Parsons, he was excellent overall. Shots on goal favored the U.S. 44-36.
“Obviously it’s super-tough,” Russian defenceman Mikhail Sergyachov said of losing. “We wanted to win that game. We did everything we could to win. We lost in the shootout. I just want to say thanks to the boys for a great effort.”
The Americans, who earned bronze last year, are seeking their first World Junior gold since beating Sweden in the 2013 final. The previous two U.S. titles came in 2004 and 2010. The Russians, who haven’t won gold since 2011, will look to take their seventh straight World Junior medal.
For the U.S., it was a wonderful end to a longstanding jinx. Russia defeated the U.S. 5-3 in the 2014 quarter-finals, 3-2 in the 2015 quarter-finals, and 2-1 in the 2016 semi-finals.
“It’s unbelievable, especially to do it in that fashion,” Keller said.
The game unfolded with a high tempo and few whistles. True to form, the Americans had the edge in overall play, but the Russians were opportunistic. Both teams’ leaders came to play.
Kaprizov scored his tournament-leading eighth goal at 11:54 to open the scoring. Behind the net, the Russian captain grabbed the puck, exploded between Terry and Joe Cecconi, and caught Parsons looking the wrong way as he completed the wrap-around. In the KHL, Kaprizov plays for Ufa, the site of the 2013 World Juniors, where the U.S. won its last gold medal.
With 55 seconds left in the first, Keller fired a bad-angle shot from the corner that bounced off White and past a surprised Samsonov. Keller was named MVP at the 2016 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 World Championship in April when the Americans won bronze.
“He put it off my butt there,” said White. “I was a little bit lucky there.”
At 1:17 of the second period, Russia jumped into a 2-1 lead. Parsons kicked out Vadim Kudako’s drive from the top of the left faceoff circle, but Guryanov was there to bang in the rebound.
The U.S. got the game’s first power play at 4:52 when Danil Yurtaikin cross-checked U.S. defenceman Adam Fox from behind into the boards, but the acrobatic Samsonov kept them at bay.
At the other end, Kaprizov came within a heartbeat of scoring again on a goalmouth chance, and Alexander Polunin knocked Parsons’ helmet off when the U.S. starter stretched to block the rebound. There was a long delay while trainers checked Parsons out, but he carried on.
“He’s a great goaltender,” Keller said of Parsons. “He’s hard to score on in practice. He’s chill back there. He’s not nervous. He’s not going to let them score an easy one.”
At 10:23, the U.S. tied it up on a great play with their second man advantage. Kunin went hard to the net to tip Jordan Greenway’s feed past Samsonov’s left pad.
White gave the Americans a 3-2 lead with his sixth goal of the tournament at 16:21. His shot from the left faceoff circle tipped off Sergyachov and fluttered past Samsonov’s blocker side.
In the third period, Sergei Zborovski hauled down the fleet-footed Keller on a partial breakaway at 5:14, and a penalty shot was awarded. Keller approached slowly, and Samsonov made a great slove save on his high backhand attempt.
Just 50 seconds later, Guryanov got loose on a breakaway and went to the forehand to slip the disc through Parsons’s legs. A wild celebration broke out at the Russian bench.
In the 4-on-4 overtime, exciting chances abounded at both ends. In particular, Samsonov dazzled when Joey Anderson hit the crossbar, followed up by a close-range save on Caleb Jones, and a stunning grab when Anderson tried to slide it in.
“It was a super-fast and emotional game,” said Sergyachov. “A lot of penalties for us. Our goalie made some crazy saves. Our forwards played their best game in the tournament. We executed well. We made some mistakes in the D zone.”
Of the shootout, Keller said: “When I was watching, they’d score, and then when I wasn’t watching, we’d get the save or whatever. So I thought I’d just not watch the last couple of shooters and it worked out.”
America’s long wait for this first playoff win makes it that much more satisfying.