2017 World Juniors: USA beats Russia in classic semifinal; 5 takeaways, Terry, Parsons play hero

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Troy Terry’s name will be synonymous with a game that will go down as one of the greats at the IIHF World Junior Championship. He also has the distinction of lifting the U.S. National Junior Team to an accomplishment that they had previously not achieved at this tournament.

With three goals in a seven-round shootout, Terry helped lift the U.S. to a stunning 4-3 semifinal victory over Russia to advance to the gold-medal game for the third time in seven years. It is the first time the U.S. has defeated Russia in the medal round at the World Juniors, having failed seven previous times in tournament history.

This sets up a meeting with Canada Thursday in the final. The game will air live on NHL Network at 8 p.m. ET.

But first, we’ve got to talk about this incredible semi.

While Terry will get the accolades for the goals, goaltender Tyler Parsons was unquestionably Team USA’s most important player for the 60 minutes of regulation, 10 minutes of overtime and in putting the U.S. in position to win the game in a shootout. The American netminder made 33 saves through regulation and overtime, before turning aside four of Russia’s seven shooters in the extras.

The shootout victory capped off a game where the U.S. had definitely played well enough to win in regulation, but an inability to cut through Russia’s defense after their European rivals tied the game in the third period put the game in precarious position.

The end will overshadow the game in its totality, but from start to finish, this was an incredible IIHF semifinal. Russia seems to only play in great ones at this stage of the tournament and now USA has a win that will go down as one of their signature moments in this tournament.

Goals from Colin White and Luke Kunin helped the U.S. battle back from early deficits before White added another in the second period. Russia tied it in the third, played to a scoreless OT and then went seven rounds as Parsons and Ilya Samsonov performed incredibly well, just as they had all game long.

Then it was Troy Terry Time.

For more about the game, let’s look at the five takeaways, biggest highlights and standout performers…

1. That was an all-time great semifinal

Over the years at this tournament, we’ve had a lot of classic semifinals. There have been tight USA-Canada battles (remember the similar Toews game?), some great wars between Russia and pretty much whoever they play.

In all of my years covering or following the tournament, this was one of the craziest, most incredible semis I’ve been able to cover. The Toews game happened the year before I worked at USA Hockey, but this would be right up there in terms of drama.

The impressiveness of this game starts at the very beginning though. After never trailing in the tournament, the U.S. ended up down 1-0 halfway through the first period on a beautiful wraparound by Kirill Kaprizov. Then the Americans scored on a terrible angle and off of Colin White’s pants in the closing minute of the first to tie it. That goal very well could have saved the game because the longer you’re chasing Russia, the tougher it gets to score.

The U.S. then came out and gave up an early goal to Russia to have to play catch-up again. Then Tyler Parsons ended up taking a rough hit that saw him stay on the ice for a while. He ended up staying in the game and minutes later set up one of the great plays I’ve ever seen a U.S. team complete at this tournament (that gets its own takeaway).

White then scored again on a well-timed cut to the middle and a deflected shot that fluttered past Samsonov. There was no way a one-goal lead was going to hold, but the U.S. had a chance to make it two when Clayton Keller was awarded a penalty shot.

He was stopped by Samsonov and minutes later the Russians capitalized on a rare U.S. mistake that ended with a breakaway by Denis Gurianov and a puck in the American net.

Then we had a great overtime, with the U.S. very nearly winning the game when Joey Anderson fought through a check to put a puck towards the open net. Samsonov never saw the shot but was in the right place at the right time as it ended up under him.

Parsons also made multiple key stops in the extra frame before it ultimately went to the shootout. At one point it looked like Denis Gurianov’s shootout-opening goal would stand, before Troy Terry was called on for the Americans. He scored with a great shot through the five-hole.

Then Russia answered right back with a goal, putting Jeremy Bracco into a must-score situation for Team USA. He nailed it with a shot awfully similar to Terry’s. It was an incredible strike in that moment.

That put Kirill Kaprizov in position to win it for Russia, but Parsons stood tall. With the order switched for extras, Russia got on the board thanks to Gurianov, who was probably their best forward all game.

Terry had to score again to save the U.S. and with a totally different move from the first time, he beat Samsonov through the five hole.

Parsons stopped the next shooter and Bob Motzko went back to Terry to close it out.

After USA’s first three shooters tried to score on the backhand, all failed. Terry decided to give it a try. Once again, a totally different move with the same result. Five-hole, goal.

The poise of Terry in this situation is going to stick with me from this game. He knew exactly what he wanted to do every time and he just nailed it.

He was excellent throughout the game, but was particularly great in the biggest moment of his young career. Not bad for a fifth round pick, eh?

2. USA got back to what it does best

After a sketchy quarterfinal win over Switzerland, the U.S. needed to get back to focusing on what it succeeds in. They simplified their game without being completely cautious. Short passes in the defensive zone and protecting the puck in the neutral zone for most of the game was a big key throughout.

When the U.S. made mistakes, it ended pretty badly. The two biggest mistakes probably came on the first and third goals, which started with turnovers.

The good news was that Tyler Parsons cleaned up some of the other miscues or imperfect plays with his spectacular goaltending throughout. There were a few plays where he bailed out his D getting a little too loose in the USA zone.

Another huge factor in the game was Team USA’s discipline. They took one penalty all game. Russia thrives on power-play opportunities and the U.S. didn’t give the referees many opportunities to blow their whistle.

3. This might be one of the best passing sequences I’ve seen a U.S. team complete

With the U.S. trailing 2-1 in the second period, not long after Tyler Parsons was collided into and appeared to be laboring, the U.S. goaltender made an incredibly heads up play.

While on a power play, the U.S. caught Russia making a line change. Actually, Parsons caught it. He sent a pass from his goal line all the way to the opposite blue line for Troy Terry. That got dished off to Jeremy Bracco, who sent a rink-wide pass to Jordan Greenway, who found Luke Kunin breaking to the net.

Just watch:

That was such a huge moment in the game. The U.S. later took the 3-2 lead and put them in the driver’s seat.

4. Tyler Parsons had himself a night

USA named Tyler Parsons its player of the game for obvious reasons. His ability to make saves in some key moments proved to be the difference. I can think of a few instances in the second period where he probably shouldn’t have made the save or that a Russian would normally bury that particular chance.

On top of that, he had Russians crashing into him all game. This one was particularly scary:

Shaking that off and getting right back into the game had USA breathing a sigh of relief.

He had several key stops on the penalty kill to keep the U.S. headed in the right direction, too. He also faced eight shots in 10 minutes in OT, coming up big multiple times. It was as sharp as he looked all tournament.

It’s too bad he won’t get an assist on that goal above, too. He made that whole thing happen with one of the best passes you’ll see a goalie make. He hit Terry right on the tape from way downtown.

5. Quick turnaround for gold-medal game will be challenging

The U.S. had to shorten its bench far more in this game than in any previous. Tanner Laczynski was listed on the lineup but did not play in the game. That left the U.S. short a fourth-line center, leaving slack to be picked up by the third line, which they did in a big way.

The fourth line didn’t get a lot of ice time, nor did Jack Ahcan on the back end. While that put more strain on the top guys, they all delivered with a really gutsy performance.

Charlie McAvoy played over 31 minutes, while Caleb Jones logged 28-plus. Both were on the ice for half of the 10-minute overtime, getting as many shifts as they could handle. Luke Kunin, Colin White and Clayton Keller were forwards that logged 22 minutes or more.

The question now is how does that impact Team USA tomorrow? Having the gold-medal game be the second half of a back-to-back, following a game that went to overtime and a shootout is really tough.

We’ll see how the other semi goes, but the U.S. is going to need a lot of rest and recovery time before getting right back after it in the final.

The good news is that the U.S. had been rolling four lines for most of the tournament and evenly spreading out ice time. Is that enough to keep them just fresh enough for their shot at running the table in Canada? We’ll see.

Stats of note

  • USA outshot Russia 44-38. Both goaltenders did a heck of a job.
  • Team USA won 53 percent of their draws. Jack Roslovic was the top faceoff man for the U.S., winning 11 of his 19 draws.
  • Clayton Keller led Team USA with 10 shots on goal in the game. There wasn’t a shot he didn’t like.
  • Keller added two assists to his total to retain the U.S. points lead. He has 10 in the tournament. Meanwhile, Colin White’s two goals give him six for the tournament, most on Team USA.

Standout performers

Tyler Parsons (London, CGY): It’s all above, but Parsons really has been incredible in this tournament. He has proven to be a big-game goalie and has come through time and time again. He now owns a 4-0 record, with a .917 save percentage. He probably won’t end up winning the directorate award for the tournament since he split games early with Joe Woll, but he’s been a rock for the U.S.

Troy Terry (Denver, ANA): There were some, including me, who weren’t sure that Terry would make the team. Sometimes it’s nice to be wrong. Terry wasn’t just good in the shootout, he was good throughout the game. He got more ice time as the third line needed some jump. His speed was a big factor throughout the game and he helped generate chances. But he’ll always be remembered for what he did in the shootout. Still can’t believe that happened.

Clayton Keller (Boston U, ARI): I thought this was as good as Keller had looked all tournament. He didn’t do well with his shootout attempt or penalty shot, but was he ever dangerous all game. He had assists on both of White’s goals and just pestered the Russians in the offensive zone with his tenacity and skill. He was named one of Team USA’s three best players in the tournament and he was truly great.

Colin White (Boston College, OTT): You can’t say enough about how good Colin White has been in this tournament. After his pair in this game, he now has at least one goal in every game of the tournament but one. He and Keller work well together, but it was White doing a lot of dirty work, going to the hard areas and making plays. He did a lot well today.

Charlie McAvoy (Boston U, BOS): The workload this kid had to shoulder in this game was pretty enormous, but he did it well. Like always, he didn’t have a perfect game, but he gave the Americans quality minutes and I really liked how he was jumping into plays and trying to make things happen in OT. His confidence just continues to grow and his reliability is a huge benefit to the coaching staff.

Jordan Greenway (Boston U, MIN): The tournament Greenway has had means that a lot more people are going to know his name. Russia had no answer for him down low. He protects the puck well with his big 6-5, 230 frame, but he has good feet and good skills to make that protection matter. He makes a lot of space for his linemates.

Jack Roslovic (Manitoba, WPG): It’s tough for Roslovic to stand out in his role, but I really was impressed with him today. He got more ice time because the U.S. had to shorten its bench and he seemed to play off of Troy Terry well. Those guys gave Russia a lot of trouble with their speed. On top of that, Roslovic was contributing in the defensive zone and at the faceoff dot. I thought this was his best game of the World Juniors.

Caleb Jones (Portland, EDM): Big minutes, smart plays and an ability to make things happen at either end. It’s been that way all tournament for Jones who has shown everyone in this tournament that he is way more than Seth’s little brother. He has confidence and picks his spots well. His steadiness in OT was really something.

Jeremy Bracco (Kitchener, TOR): That shootout goal alone was reason to put him on here. Must-score and he buries with a shot from the hash marks. That takes so much guts. I’ve been really impressed with him game in, game out.

It’s hard leaving everyone out, but this is pretty long already and there’s another game to go tomorrow. Stay tuned for a gold-medal game preview.

 

 

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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.
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One Response to 2017 World Juniors: USA beats Russia in classic semifinal; 5 takeaways, Terry, Parsons play hero

  1. deltamike says:

    Great article!

    Thanks, Chris!

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