PARDUBICE, Czech Republic – Russia won the bronze medal at this year’s U20 World Championship after topping USA, 4-2. The medal is the fourth straight for the Russians, who earned silver the last three years before getting bronze this year.
The game was a far cry from the closely contested preliminary round match-up between the teams, which ended in a 3-2 U.S. win. The Americans, clearly deflated from last night’s semi-final loss against Canada, were uninspired in their efforts to win a second straight bronze medal.
Alexei Cherapanov perhaps summed up the game best saying, "We wanted the win more than the Americans."
Russia had a strong first period, jumping out to a 3-0 lead. Cherapanov was instrumental in two of the goals, flipping in a back-hander for the 1-0 lead, and then intercepting a pass in the neutral zone and feeding it to Nikita Filatov for the 3-0 goal. In between the Cherapanov plays was a power play goal by Evgeni Kurbatov that trickled into the net behind U.S. goaltender Jeremy Smith.
"We were not nervous when we stepped on the ice today, so we finally scored some goals int he first period," Filatov said. "That is the difference with all the other games that we played, there we were nervous when we hit the ice. This was surely our best game of the tournament."
After surrendering three goals, Smith was replaced by Joe Palmer in the second period. Palmer promptly gave up the fourth Russian goal just 1:30 after entering the game when Filatov struck on the power play for his second goal of the game.
The U.S. had a glimmer of hope midway through the second period when Rhett Rakhshani scored USA’s first goal of the game. The U.S. notched another goal with just over six minutes left in the game when Jordan Schroeder scored on a five-on-three. But late penalties squelched any hope for the U.S. comeback, as Russia skated onto the 4-2 win.
"This tournament started for us back in August," said U.S. forward Mike Carman. "We came here with a good group of guys and we were confident we could make it to the end. It's sorry it ended this way."
Cherapanov finished the game with one goal and two assists, while Filatov had two goals and an assist.