LIBEREC, Czech Republic – The Americans took first place in Group B and earned a place in the semi-finals after a 3-2 win against Russia in a hard-fought battle by both teams.
USA takes first place in the group with nine points as the only other team that can match the nine points is Russia, who they beat tonight, gaining the head-to-head advantage.
When the two nations meet, it is always an intense affair and today’s game was no different as the squads dueled for the semi-final berth in another one for the record books between the two storied nations.
Russia ran into penalty trouble in the first period and eventually paid the price when the U.S. scored on its second five-on-three chance of the period. Tyler Ruegsegger put in the rebound by the crease to give the Americans the 1-0 lead.
Alexei Cherapanov netted the only goal of the second period, putting in the long rebound, and tying the game at one. The Americans put heavy pressure on the Russian net after the goal, especially during their one power-play chance of the period, but the puck just wouldn’t go in and the teams had to settle for the 1-1 deadlock at the end of 40 minutes.
The U.S: took the 2-1 lead 3:01 into the third period when James van Riemsdyk scored with an odd-angle goal on the power play. Four minutes later Mike Carmen made it a two-goal lead after pounding the puck in on a scrum down low. Despite holding the their largest lead of the game, the Americans suffered through some tense moments, most notably when Russia’s Viktor Tikhonov cut the lead to on with just over five minutes.
The Americans were able to hold off the Russians for the rest of regulation and skate onto the 3-2 win and first place in the B Group. Both teams still have one game left in preliminary round action. The Russians will face Switzerland and the Americans will take on Finland. Both games are on the 31st.
It was the first time since 2005 that the two teams met in preliminary round action. In the last two meetings between the teams, the Russians defeated the U.S. in the semi-finals