U.S. 2 Russia 1
VANCOUVER — The U.S. will play for gold after beating Russia 2-1 at the world junior hockey championship on Friday.
It was Russia’s first loss at this year’s tournament, and came despite the team out shooting the Americans 36-27.
Oliver Wahlstrom and Alexander Chmelevski scored for the U.S. (5-0-1-0).
Grigori Denisenko found the net for Russia (5-0-0-1).
U.S. netminder Cayden Primeau stopped 35-of-36 shots and Pyotr Kochetkov had 26 saves for the Russians.
The Americans took home bronze from last year’s tournament after beating Russia in the quarterfinals.
The U.S. opened the scoring 14:29 into the first period.
Forward Logan Cockerill powered down the ice, looking like he was going to shoot, but instead sliced the puck to Wahlstrom, who hammered it in to put the U.S. up 1-0.
His teammates added a power-play goal early in the second after Russia’s Vitali Kravtsov was called for tripping.
The Americans chipped the puck around the Russian goal several times before 17-year-old Jack Hughes got a pass off to Chmelevski directly in front of the net.
The San Jose Sharks prospect poked the puck in under Kochetkov.
The Russians responded 14:36 into the second frame, with Denisenko streaking down the boards and getting a shot up and over Primeau.
Taken 15th overall by the Florida Panthers at last year’s draft, Denisenko is Russia’s top scorer in the tournament, notching four goals and four assists over six games.
Despite the final score, Denisenko wasn’t the only Russian to put the puck in the net on Friday, though.
Midway through the first frame, Dmitri Samorukov dished a pass off to Nikita Shashkov, drawing Primeau across the net. Shashkov deflected it in through the back door.
But officials reviewed the play and called off the goal, saying Shashkov kicked it in.
Another close call came on a Russian power play early in the third period. A shot from Klim Kostin left the puck rolling along the goal line before U.S. defenceman Phil Kemp swatted it out of harm’s way.
The Americans will find out later on Friday who they’ll face in the finals.
Underdogs Finland and Switzerland were set to battle for the spot in a second semifinal match up later in the day.
Both the gold and bronze medal games will be played on Saturday.
Gemma Karstens-Smith, The Canadian Press