The path to bronze
The path to bronze
USA hoping for positive result
Russia’s 3-1 loss to Finland ended hopes of a host team gold medal on home soil. The last Russian team to do so was the Soviet Union at the 1986 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship in Moscow. Sweden was the last team to do it at the 2013 World Championship in Stockholm.
Against Canada, Team USA was hoping for its first breakthrough to the gold medal game and came extremely close. On the strength of three goals in the second period of yesterday’s semi-final game, they led 3-2 for a time before surrendering two goals and losing 4-3.
Russia will undoubtedly bring overwhelming fan support. If there is anything they’ve enjoyed since this tournament began it has been the unwavering backing of their country’s hockey loving base.
On paper, Russia has a talented team. As Finnish forward Leo Komarov said after his team’s semi-final win, the Russians might have the best players in the tournament, pound for pound.
Vadim Shipachyov leads the Russian national team. The 29-year-old Shipachyov has had such an impressive tournament that now there are rumours of NHL teams wanting to sign him, including the Montreal Canadiens. Shipachyov’s five goals and 16 points lead all scorers at the World Championship.
Not far behind is Artemi Panarin with five goals and 12 points, including two game winners. Pavel Datsyuk is still the magic man, capable of brilliant passes, leadership and experience.
Defensively, Russia has been capable. They have surrendered only 14 goals in nine games. Nikita Zaitsev and Alexei Marchenko lead the team in plus minus at +11. As well, blueliners account for five of Russia’s 37 goals scored. Sergei Bobrovski has been their main goaltender throughout and should see action today.
The Americans are hoping to win another bronze medal today. If they do, it would be the first time they medalled in consecutive top division World Championships since 1934. But as head coach John Hynes said in the post-game press conference, today will require mental toughness, particularly after being on the cusp of something special last night against Canada.
Although disappointed, the Americans will turn their full attention to today’s game.
“We are pros and that’s what we get paid to do so hopefully we can regroup and come back strong,” said defenceman Chris Wideman. "We lost this one, but we have to get up and fight for a bronze medal for our fans."
There is little time to rehash yesterday's game and dwell on what might have been.
Auston Matthews has solidified his standing heading into the NHL Draft in June. He leads Team USA in goal scoring and tied for the lead in points. Dylan Larkin has seven helpers and playing with as much poise as a ten-year veteran. It is hard to believe this is only his second senior appearance at the World Championships.
J.T. Compher and Tyler Motte have replicated some of their regular season chemistry as they played well in the game against Canada. Frank Vatrano has shown a willingness to get involved and mix things up. He has five assists and six points. Despite only one goal in the tournament, Vatrano is not afraid to shoot the puck. He is third on the team with 27 shots.
Keith Kincaid and Mike Condon have played well for the United States. Despite giving up four goals against Canada, Kincaid played well, keeping his team in the game throughout.
Today's game should be an entertaining affair in the second to last game of the 2016 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship.
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