Story and picture courtesy of Hockey Canada.
Down by two goals on three separate occasions, and trailing for most of the game, Team USA rallied time after time, finding a way to escape with a 9-6 win over Russia to capture the World Junior A Challenge bronze medal. Nick Dineen had two goals for the Americans, including the game-winner at 17:00 of the third period, and one assist.
Russia opened the scoring at 2:39 mark of the first period. Forward Anton Lazarev came flying down the off-wing, and fired a quick hard shot that went in off U.S. goaltender Brady Hjelle. Evgeny Grachev made it 2-0 at 15:07, converting a great feed from Pavel Chernov.
USA did get a number of quality chances in the opening stanza, actually leading 12-7 on the shot clock, but trailing 2-0 on the scoreboard.
The Americans were finally rewarded with a first goal at 5:45 of the second frame. Nico Sacchetti skated into the slot and scored on Alistratov, cutting Russia’s lead to 2-1.
Russia reclaimed a two-goal lead at 8:28 of this middle frame, on a highlight reel Nikita Filatov breakaway, as he sent a backhand shot high over goaltender Hjelle.
USA was back to within a goal when Jimmy Hayes scored on a weak backhand that handcuffed Alistratov. Sacchetti registered his second of the afternoon to tie the game for the first time soon after, which chased Alistratov from the game, after he had allowed three goals on 15 shots. Alexander Pechurskiy took over in net for Russia.
The change in net seemed to wake up the Russians, who scored twice in the final five minutes of the second period to restore their two-goal advantage. Pavel Chernov, at 14:58, and Dmitri Kugryshev, at 19:58, made it 5-3 Russia going into the final period.
But once again, USA battled back to even the game. Goals by Hayes, his 2nd of the game, and Drew LeBlanc made the score 5-5 early in the final period. Russia was back in front for a final time at 7:32, on a Viacheslav Voinov goal.
That set the stage for USA’s final dramatic comeback. After a Tim Hall goal evened the score at 6-6, Dineen gave the Americans their first lead of the night at 17:00 of the final frame. Nick Larsen and Barry Almeida closed out the scoring to give USA the bronze medal.
USA was making it’s debut at the World Junior A Challenge this year, while Russia won bronze at the in Yorkton.
Nico Sacchetti 2 (Barry Almeida 3)
Jimmy Hayes 1 (John Lee 1)
Sacchetti 3 (Almeida 4, Dineen 2)
Dineen 2 (Ben Blood 2, Almeida 5)
Drew LeBlanc 1 (Jack Connolly 1)
Tim Hall 2 (Connolly 2, Blake Kessel 5)
Dineen 3 (Sacchetti 3, Almeida 6)
Nick Larson 1 (Hayes 2, LeBlanc 1)
Almeida 3 (Blood 3)
USA Player of the Game: Nico Sacchetti
Barry Almeida (3-6--9)
Blake Kessel (2-5--7)
Nico Sacchetti (3-3--6)
Nick Dineen (3-2--5)
Jack Connolly (2-2--4)
Ben Blood (1-3--4)
Tim Hall (2-1--3)
Jimmy Hayes (1-2--3)
Drew LeBlanc (1-1--2)
Seth Helgeson (0-2--2)
Mike Cichy (1-0--1)
Nick Larson (1-0--1)
Max Nicastro (0-1--1)
John Lee (0-1--0)
Jared Festler (0-1--0)
Tyler Kieffer (0-0--0)
Craig Smith (0-0--0)
Keegan Flaherty (0-0--0)