Granted, this is the Youth Olympic Games U16 men’s ice hockey tournament, not Lake Placid or Sochi. But with the offensive fireworks put out by these two rivals in Lausanne 2020, there is no doubt that the final should be a doozie.
On one side you have the Russian team, perennial medal contenders in IIHF and Olympic ice hockey and looking every bit the tournament favourites after running a 10-1 demolition job on Finland in the semi-final.
“They’re a new team for us. We saw some of their games. They have some good guys,” said Miroshnichenko of the U.S. team. “It will be a tough game but we hope to play as well as today and that fortune will be on our country’s side.”
On the other you have Team USA, the 2016 Youth Olympic champions and boasting a talented roster of top young prospects. Isaac Howard matched Michkov’s goal’s total, and Frank Nazar has scored three goals in the last two games, including the game winner against Canada on a penalty shot.
Head coach Scott Paluch will have to decide who to go with in net, although Dylan Silvertstein got the nod against the Canadians. On the Russian net it will likely be Sergei Ivanov.
“It feels amazing [to make the final]. We get a medal now, we have to choose which colour we want,” said Silverstein. “It will be a good game. We have to see who we will be playing, seal the deal and take care of business.”
In the bronze medal, it’s Canada taking on Finland, which will be trying to shake off a brutal loss to the Russians in the semi-final to try and take home a medal.
“It’s a great experience for our players," said head coach Gordie Dwyer. "It’s been a really good tournament and we definitely want to finish up strong and come home with some hardware.”
The Canadians gave it their all in a tight loss to the USA, so this game figures to be close as both teams try get past a disappointing semi-final round and come home with a medal.