2014 IIHF World Junior Championship: USA vs. Russia Recap

The U.S. played with fire too much and got burned. Now their World Junior Championship is over. Team USA fell to Russia 5-3 in the quarterfinals in Malmo today. A pair of 5-on-3 power-play goals in the second period made up the difference and put the U.S. on their heels for the final half of the game. Team USA’s final placement won’t be decided until the quarterfinal ends, but it will be no higher than fifth.

2014WJCLogoIt is a disappointing result for a team that started the tournament 3-0-0-0. The sting for the Americans only intensifies as losing back-to-back games to their biggest international rivals cost them the tournament.

When it came down to it, Team USA made too many mistakes with penalties and didn’t have enough of a response when the game got tougher to have earned the right to advance. It wasn’t a dreadful effort against Russia, as Team USA led going into the second period 3-2, but it certainly was not good enough at this level.

The thing about short tournaments is that it doesn’t take much to flip a game or a tournament on its head. For the U.S., they couldn’t respond well enough when things weren’t going their way. That goes back to the prelim loss against Canada and now the elimination at the hands of Russia. A lot of players played well, but there just wasn’t enough from the group as a whole to get over the hump.

Coming off the gold medal last year, there was pressure on this team, but there was a large difference between last year’s squad and this one. The depth of talent wasn’t there, but the way this team was built, they had an opportunity to make some noise in the tournament. Unfortunately for the U.S., they came up short and weren’t able to prove they had the depth to overcome the players they lost this year to the NHL or injury.

Team USA Scoring Summary

First Period
1. Stefan Matteau (Eichel, Skjei), 8:50. — After a nice play by Jack Eichel to keep the play alive and wrap a shot on net. Matteau won a net-front battle and slammed home the loose puck to make it 1-1.

2. Ryan Hartman (Matteau), 11:23. — After starting the rush, Hartman dished the puck to Stefan Matteau who entered the zone wide with speed. He sent a pass to Hartman who was cutting to the middle. Hartman got hold of the puck and whacked at it with a backhand shot while it was on edge and tied the game 2-2.

3. Nic Kerdiles (Barber), 16:51 — After knocking Riley Barber’s high pass out of mid-air, Kerdiles shot the puck while it was on edge. It knuckled past Vasilevski to make it 3-2. It actually was a great individual play by Kerdiles as this GIF via Japers’ Rink shows:

Second Period
None. Russia scores twice on the power-play to take 4-3 lead.

Third Period
None. Russia’s empty-netter sealed the 5-3 win.

Goaltending Summary
Jon Gillies — 20 saves on 24 shots

Other stats of note…

- USA out-shot Russia 33-25. Ryan Hartman led the way with five shots on goal.

- Quentin Shore was the only one of Team USA’s regular centers that finished on the plus side in the faceoff circle. He won seven of nine draws. Andrew Copp won 10 of 21.

- Team USA’s PP went 0-for-4, while Russia’s PP went 2-for-6.

Here are highlights from the game via IIHF:

General Notes

- The U.S. started the game very well matching Russia’s skill with speed and physicality. Taking a 3-2 lead in the period may have been a little lucky since Andrei Vasilevski was not at his best. The Kerdiles goal was a bit of a soft one, but it fluttered on him and he lost the puck on Matteau’s goal after making the initial save.

- Now for all the bad parts… The U.S. lost their way in the second period thanks to penalty after penalty. The only one that was moderately excusable was Steven Santini’s delay of game penalty for shooting the puck over the glass. It’s tough to see on the replay, but it looked like it may have caught the top of the glass, refs thought otherwise. Either way, two 5-on-3 power plays led to two goals for Nikita Zadorov. If you give Russia 5-on-3s, they will score. It’s not they might score. They will score. They did.

- The U.S. actually had a good start to the second period. Ryan Hartman had a golden opportunity to extend Team USA’s lead to 4-2 on a 3-on-1 rush. He passed to Matt Grzelcyk, who one-touched it back to Hartman. His shot was robbed by the pad of Vasilevski on the save of the game. After that, things went south for the U.S. The penalties took the game off the rails.

- One thing the U.S. had trouble establishing after the first period was any sort of net-front presence and an ability to generate chances from the middle of the ice. Not even on power plays was the U.S. getting anything established in the middle. Part of that was Russia’s very disciplined defense. But the U.S. had speed and size and never used it effectively enough against a team that they should have been able to out-work. If you can’t win between the dots, you won’t win. You look at most U.S. losses at this tournament and it was a failure to control the middle of the ice. Absolutely the case in this game.

- That was the best Russian PK I’ve ever seen, and I’ve seen them a lot at various tournaments over the years. They were very disciplined, but the U.S. didn’t challenge them nearly enough. The U.S. scored 11 power-play goals in their first three games and none against Canada or Russia. Team USA was given good chances late and failed to capitalize with any sort of flow to their PP. That will go down as one of the major failures in this game.

- I thought the officiating in the game was very inconsistent for both sides. I think all the penalties that were called were penalties, so there’s no excuse making here. There was a lot let go in the first and third that wasn’t in the second, though. One memorable no-call was Nic Kerdiles getting boarded in the third period with USA on a power play. Kerdiles and Riley Barber also got hit from behind on the same shift with no calls earlier in the game. I’ve rarely seen that call missed in international play. Only worth mentioning because it’s a dangerous play, not because USA didn’t get power plays. That’s why I loved this quote from Riley Barber, who put the blame on his team, not the refs:

- Puck management was an issue throughout the game. The U.S. blew up their transition game with ill-advised passes or just not connecting. A lot of the forwards found the puck hopping around on them out there. I don’t know if it was nerves or just a relative lack of skill or what. Team USA was disjointed throughout. Without a good transition game, their speed was moot. A few D-zone turnovers also ended in the back of the net, which is something that will happen often against highly skilled teams like Russia. In the offensive zone, the U.S. got very little sustained zone time. Pucks were in and out of the zone without much bite from the American forwards.

- The U.S. never had enough urgency until it was basically too late. With your back against the wall, you have to take what you’re given. Russia opened the door with late penalties and some sloppiness with the puck, but the U.S. never was quick enough to capitalize. Team USA didn’t play from behind a lot in this tournament, so when it happened, their response was rarely enough. They had good push-back in the first, but after the two power-play goals flipped the score, the U.S. couldn’t find their way back.

- At the end of the game after Russia scored the empty-net goal, the Russian players taunted the U.S. bench. That’s kind of typical of this rivalry, though. Ryan Hartman extended his stick and slashed or high-sticked one of the Russian players, which obviously is not an appropriate reaction to what the U.S. viewed as a disrespectful act by the Russians. However, in the aftermath, one of the members of Russia’s staff, an adult in fact, made an obscene gesture at the U.S. bench. Now… what Hartman did was bad. For sure. Inexcusable. However, it is incredibly disappointing to see an adult act like that in a tournament that is played by teenagers. I don’t care what cultural difference there may be, that is no way for an adult to act. You can see the gif of the gesture here. If nothing else, the Russian staff should get a talking to from the IIHF. Simply unacceptable.

Player Notes

Connor Carrick – Carrick was named Team USA’s player of the game and I thought he had his best effort of the tournament. He was physical, engaged offensively and made a lot of great plays in the defensive zone. He and Brady Skjei didn’t have too many unsettling moments when on the ice and were a solid pair throughout the tournament.

Hudson Fasching — Team USA’s best forward for a lot of the tournament, to me, was Fasching. His play down low in the offensive zone was incredible. He was physically dominant, making skill plays to get pucks to the net and just had all-out effort every shift. He gave the U.S. a PK option and performed well in that role. Once he learns to finish off some of those power drives to the net, he’s going to be a force. He’s eligible to return next year.

Ryan Hartman — Hartman was engaged physically throughout the game, but an ill-timed slashing call (that looked a little bit on the soft side, but was a penalty), and reaction after Russia’s empty-netter was disappointing (he high-sticked a Russian going by the bench). If we focus solely on his play, however, I liked his game for the most part. If he finishes that odd-man rush, it’s a different game. He was very good with Stefan Matteau and Jack Eichel and is a handful for any team.

Stefan Matteau — Aside from a terrible penalty that started Team USA’s parade to the box, Matteau was good for much of the game. His first goal was the result of just being stronger than the guy in front of him and jamming home a puck. His speed and physicality were notable for much of the game, but would have liked to see him get to the net more late in the game. The penalties he took in the tournament were costly though, which puts a black mark on what was otherwise a good tournament.

Will Butcher — I really liked the way Butcher was moving the puck throughout the tournament and again today. On the power play, he was very good as a quarterback. He had to make things happen on the back end and did with patience. Butcher was also good in his own end, which made for less work for Steven Santini defensively. The good news for USA Hockey is Butcher is back next year.

Steven Santini — Save for his very close delay of game penalty, Santini was excellent in his own end. I thought he was remarkable defensively throughout the tournament and was so good physically. When he has the puck, he has patience and makes smart decisions. Santini was never a liability when out there. That delay-of-game penalty was unfortunate, but doesn’t diminish what he did well. Santini could be a top defenseman on next year’s team.

Jon Gillies — Gillies was really fighting the puck early, but settled down as the game wore on. Russia’s second goal was right off a rebound that Gillies probably could have sucked up better, but it was on a fluttering puck. You can’t fault him for the PPGs as those were just absolute bombs from Zadorov that probably would be goals in the NHL. Gillies settled down late, but those 5-on-3 power plays for Russia were too efficient and that’s not on Gillies. Tough way to go out.

Brady Skjei — Skjei made some excellent defensive plays early in this game. I liked him a lot in this tournament and really liked what he did in the first period to shut down some of Russia’s best chances. He does a very good job of sealing off the net-front and closing gaps. I think this tournament is an overall step forward for Skjei developmentally.

Matt Grzelcyk — Today was a tough day for Grzelcyk who lost an edge and gave up the empty-net goal. I didn’t think he played poorly, but his mistakes get magnified due to the goals. It’s too bad. Grzelcyk had a very good tournament and was named one of Team USA’s best three players. I really like where his game was in this tournament, but today wasn’t his day. Grzelcyk had Team USA’s last great scoring chance when he caught a rebound on edge. His shot was stopped by Vasilevski, however. His overall tournament eval will be kinder than the one for the Russia game, unfortunately.

Jack Eichel — This kid made some great plays again against Russia and he was out there to take the biggest draw of the game when on his strong side in the closing seconds of regulation. He won that faceoff and gave the U.S. a good chance to make something happen. Eichel also made Team USA’s first goal happen by winning a battle for the puck and getting a shot away. He is eligible to play in the next two WJCs, so the best is yet to come from Jack Eichel.

I’ll have a full tournament recap coming later this week with player-by-player evals for the tournament as a whole. Think of it like an exit interview type thing.

It’s always sad when this tournament ends, but especially so when it ends early. I really enjoy covering this tournament and am incredibly grateful for everyone who has visited the blog to check it out. Traffic has been way up this year, which is a testament to the tournament interest growing in the U.S., so I am very pleased that you decided to make United States of Hockey part of your World Junior experience. Thanks for stopping by.

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About Chris Peters

Editor of The United States of Hockey. Contributor to CBSSports.com, USA Hockey Magazine and more. Former USA Hockey PR guy. Current Iowan.
This entry was posted in American Prospects, Junior Hockey, NCAA, NHL, U.S. National Teams, USA Hockey, World Junior Championship. Bookmark the permalink.

25 Responses to 2014 IIHF World Junior Championship: USA vs. Russia Recap

  1. Iain says:

    Buddy, you’re right, there are cultures where the concept of chivalry or sportsmanship is non existent, and yes that kind of nonsense is unacceptable. It’s not unusual from Russia, however, but karma is a you-know-what and they might well get their come-uppance in this tournament.

    Not to worry, the US will be back.

    Best,

    A Canadian.

    • Remember Zima says:

      This comes from a Canadian??? With class acts like PK Subban or Patric Roy you should the last one talking about ethics and sportsmanship. Pffft…

  2. Wannan says:

    excusing a stick to the face from the bench on the other teams poor sportsmanship is ridiculous. Hartman should receive several game ban form the IIHF for this incident. No matter what a player is doing on the ice they should never have to fear or wonder whats coming form over the other side of the boards like that. the only poor sportsmanship i saw was an American player upset they lost and stuck a stick in an opposing players face. I don’t think a little taunting where the worst case scenario is someone feelings might get hurt… a stick to the face could have cost that player an eye or a cut or possibly his career… honestly take the nationalistic blinders off for a second when someone health and safety was at risk… that american player is the only one in the worng and to say anything other wise is sickening

    • Chris Peters says:

      I believe I called Hartman’s action “Inexcusable.” You are exaggerating what happened though as well. Anyways, thanks for reading, or selectively reading.

  3. Montana John says:

    If you taunt a team when their emotions are the highest, your lucky you don’t get your head taken off. We will be back!

  4. ushlhockeyfan says:

    Great, great job Chris covering the tournament. Loved reading your posts throughout. Wonder what your thoughts are on player selections today for USA. When the bench gets short seems like non-NTDP players see very little action.

    • Chris Peters says:

      I didn’t have any problems with the usage today. I thought the right guys were out there late in the game based on how the game was going at that point. Didn’t get much execution from a lot of the roster today. With no ties to the NTDP, I don’t think Don Lucia had an intentional proclivity to play those guys more. There are 14 alumni on the team, so it’s kind of how it works out numbers-wise.

      • ushlhockeyfan says:

        Lucia does have ties to the NTDP. His son, Mario played in Ann Arbor. At the beginning of the tournament and during the selection process Lucia talked about having players that were versatile and could play in various situations. Today, the difference was penalty killing and the nonexistent power play. When something is obviously not working why not have the confidence to switch it up and use some other weapons? Another thing the coaches and returning players talked about early on was being mindful of bringing the non-NTDP players on board. Appears that was lip service and the leaders on the team failed to make that happen.

      • Chris Peters says:

        Just a point of clarification, Mario played a few games with the NTDP to fill in for injured guys, which is a lot different. No true ties between Don and NTDP to develop this perceived bias.

      • tim says:

        He always played the same guys! Bad/biased coaching = bad results. Lucia got what he deserved, to go home a loser.

  5. mike says:

    Hartman is a coward. I cant believe his inexcusable action hasnt drawn more attention. He should be suspended from playing internationally. Oh, wait – theyre out, never mind.

    And stop your whining about the calls. U.S. more PPM than Russia did, yet you’re crying about the officiating. Face the facts – team U.S. failed to convert. period.

    You guys are talking about sportsmanship and chivalry in a Canadian game, and how the Russians are know for lack of that (I played in Russia and this is not true at all). They are just as excited and thrilled to be there as the rest of the teams, and that was a winning goal.

    What about American Football???? NAAAWWW – no taunting there. Get over yourselves.

    How about a stick in the face for an American player for scoring a goal – what sort of reaction do you think that would have drawn?

  6. The replay clearly shows the puck hitting the glass..If that is the rule..They blew it.

  7. Jacob says:

    I’ve been wondering about the delay of game penalty for a few hours. The replay is quite clear that the puck hit the glass, you can see the glass shaking, vibrating from it after the fact and this should have been obvious to anyone on the ice. My issue is that none of the media covering the game have noticed or commented it. I expect IIHF and US hockey to avoid the topic because officiating errors happen and the team needs to play well enough to overcome it, BUT this is not a referee judgement call as you can argue with most penalties. If the puck is sent directly out, it has to be a penalty. If it hits the glass first, it can’t be a penalty – there’s no other interpretation allowed. I’m very disappointed with the media not giving this ANY airtime!

    • Matt says:

      They did comment on it during the game… They said the netting was attached to the glass and the puck hit the netting first causing the glass to shake.

  8. Iain says:

    The stick in the face was, relatively speaking, a tap. Not all that different from the one on John Tavares in Saskatoon a few years ago, and for the exact same reason: perceived gloating. In the Tavares case, he was deliberately mimicking the “can’t hear you now” gesture a US player had made in front of the Canadian bench earlier in the game (an enormous mistake, as Chris pointed out in a previous article). But today … I don’t know. There are codes out there and while you could argue that it was unreasonably this or unfairly that – and I’m writing as a guy who has taken more than a few sticks to the face over the years – I’m not convinced that it wasn’t a proportional response. If you skate by the other team’s bench like that you are deliberately taunting them when they’re down, it’s no accident, and you are really, REALLY asking for it. Guys have been clobbered in the NHL for much less.

    And for what it’s worth, the Russian kid apologized.

  9. Anti NTDP fan says:

    I totally agree with you ushlhockeyfan! Non NTDP players where not used even when they proved they were as talented! No excuse to be sat. Obviously the NTDP kids could not get it done – they fell apart in both games. But they were always given the chance.

    • ushlhockeyfan says:

      Reminds me of the scene in “Miracle” where Herb Brooks asks the players who they play for. The players on the WJC’14 team DO NOT play for NTDP, University of Minnesota, Boston University, Miami of Ohio etc. They play for the United States of America!!!!!!!!!
      Even the photos from photo day were very telling – many photos of groups of NTDP players and much talk of the “brotherhood.” The brotherhood didn’t get the job done.

  10. Anonymous says:

    I am sure there will be plenty of action and criticism against the Russian official who made the obscene gesture. But what I don’t like about this article is that there is no consideration of the fact that taunting does not equal physical retaliation. You claim Hartman’s actions may not be inexcusable but your wording makes it sound like taunting or obscene gestures should result in physical retaliation. You mention no desire to see any actions taken against the physical assault committed by Hartman. Reinhart, a Canadian player, was given a four game suspension during last year’s World Jr’s conclusion which he was forced to serve at the beginning of this tournament. I want to see the same actions taken against both the Russian official and the American player. No gesture or taunting should ever result in physical assault. Next time take a less biased stance. I don’t care about any obscene gestures, they just demonstrate the immaturity of those involved, but physical assault is vicious and brings personal and physical harm to others as well as the offender. It is worth much more focus then the obscene gesture. Where’s the .gif of the physical assault? Funny how you neglected to post it.

  11. charlie yankee says:

    Thanks for the coverage and analysis. It makes following this tournament even better. I always look forward to your work.

    As to this team being bounced early–there’s always next year. And next year’s team. Maybe they can get Phil Housley to come back.

  12. charlie yankee says:

    Thanks for the replies.

  13. anonymous says:

    watching the Finland and Canadian game…..officiating is pathetic….so one sided….always seems the way when this tournament is played in Europe……

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