The United States will move on to the 2018 World Junior semifinals thanks to a 4-2 victory over Russia on Tuesday in Buffalo. Kieffer Bellows had two goals, and the eventual game winner in the third period, to help lift the Americans to the semifinal.
The Russians never led during the 60 minute game, but were able to stay aggressive enough to put pressure on Team USA. The loss now ends a seven-year stretch of medaling at the World Juniors for Team Russia.
The United States outshot the Russians by a wide margin, as they ended the game with a 43-29 advantage.
Bellows’ game-winner, a canon of a shot off an American rush down the ice, came with eight minutes to go in the third period that broke a 2-2 tie. Bellows now has six goals in the World Junior tournament for Team USA.
Bellows also got the opening goal for the United States just 2:18 into the game. On the Americans’ first power play of the game, the point shot was blocked in traffic, but Brady Tkachuk tapped a backhand pass to Bellows at the face-off dot for the quick one-timer past Russian goaltender Vladislav Sukhachyov.
Midway through the first, the Russians tied the game on Marsel Sholokhov’s backhand tally. On a Russian rush up the ice, Sholokhov’s snappy shot beat U.S. goaltender Joseph Woll between the arm and the post. The goal originally looked questionable, but on replay the puck hit the back camera in the United States’ net before knocking into the other post and popping out.
The United States did regain the lead moments later, however, with 5:26 left in the period. Sukhachyov got tangled up with a Russian defender at the top of the blue paint on Kailer Yamamoto’s original shot, and before the goaltender could get set the Edmonton Oilers’ prospect flung his own rebound into the net for the 2-1 lead.
At the end of the first period, Russian defenseman Vladislav Syomin got his elbow up on Max Jones, earning a five-minute major penalty and a game misconduct.
The United States did not score on the ensuing power play, however, and the second period went scoreless despite the Russians pushing on a late man advantage.
It didn’t take long in the third period for the Russians to tie the game at two apiece, as Andrei Altybarmakyan made his own luck by beating the United States on a breakaway. Altybarmakyan threw a power move down the wing to keep away from the defending Team USA player before tucking a backhand behind Woll.
Moments later, Bellows gave Team USA the win after beating out an icing in the Russian zone and popping the water bottle off the net with his top shelf shot.
Joey Anderson capped off the win for the Americans with an empty netter with 41 seconds to play in the third.
United States’ goaltender Woll ended the night with 27 saves.
With a day break ahead of them, the Americans will now face Sweden in the semifinals on Thursday as they look to repeat as World Junior champions.