International Ice Hockey Federation

Eagle beats bear

Eagle beats bear

Farabee's shortie defeats Russia, US advances

Published 26.04.2018 23:46 GMT+5 | Author Slava Malamud
Eagle beats bear
CHELYABINSK, RUSSIA - APRIL 26: USA's Cole Caufield #22 celebrates with Jacob Wise #12 after scoring a first period goal against Russia during quarterfinal round action at the 2018 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 World Championship. (Photo by Andrea Cardin/HHOF-IIHF Images)
In a game that proved every bit equal to its billing, USA eliminated host Russia thanks to a third-period shorthanded goal to advance to the semifinal.

Neither the Russian defense, nor the hostile crowd, nor the Slovak national anthem mistakenly played in their honor managed to stifle the Americans' drive or dampen their spirits as they advanced to their 16th consecutive U18 World Championship semifinal. The unprecedented success of the American development system continues.

"This is huge", said USA's hero, forward Joel Farabee afterwards. "I have spent two years with these guys in the locker room, I know them like the back of my hand. It definitely helps on the ice. You know what everyone is going to do."

Americans might well consider Canada their greatest hockey rival, but for Russians, the good old US of A is slowly gaining that status, and probably already has gained it at the U20 and U18 levels. The Yanks clearly were up to the task proving their superiority in front of the sell-out crowd in Chelyabinsk.

"It was crazy here", said the 17-year-old phenom Jack Hughes. "Russians are really passionate about hockey, but it's really big for us to get a win in front of eight thousand people."

Farabee's third-period shortie was the game-winner, as Cole Caufield and Oliver Wahlstrom also scored on the Russian goalie Amir Miftalkhov, while Jacob Wise and Hughes managed to beat an open net.

"I really like Hughes", said the Russian head coach Alexander Zybin after the game. "Though tonight our defense paid very close attention to him. Also, number 18 on his wing (Wahlstrom) is very good. It's a nice line."

Ruslan Iskhakov scored unassisted for Russia.

"We all tried hard", said the despondent-looking Russian captain Anton Malyshev. "But the fate didn't turn our way."

Both teams had something to say in regards to mutual history. Russia held an edge in the all-time series, winning 10 out of the 17 previous contests, the only country to have a winning record against the mighty Yanks. The US, however, has only lost once in the quarterfinals since 2002. They defeated Russia, 5-4, last year in the preliminary round, and their last playoff meeting, in Sochi in 2013, also went the Americans’ way.

"We just stuck to our system", said Farabee. "They kind of went away from theirs, tried to do too much individually, but we ground it out."

Nobody was going to trap in this one. Certainly not Russia, spurred ahead by the feverishly excited crowd (including a large contingent of local Air Force cadets, in full military uniform), and certainly not the Americans who simply have too much talent to play second fiddle to anyone on the planet. To put it mildly, it was a highly exciting first period, with chances on both ends.

At 3:43, after Americans were rather cavalier with their defensive-zone passing, Marchenko jumped out all alone on Knight and tried to go five-hole, but was duly stoned by the US goalie. Later, Spencer Stastney went sprawling on the ice to deny a pass to the far post, likely saving Knight a whole lot of trouble.

The Americans, for their part, were quick as lightning on offense and, in their signature fashion, tested Miftakhov with shots early and often. But it in, dare we say, Russian-like fashion, that they opened the scoring at the 8:47 mark.

Caufiled streaked into the zone with a puck on a two-on-one rush, took a long look at Jonathan Gruden flying wingman on the left, letting the defenseman hit the ice and the goalie spread his pads, and then softly wristed the puck five-hole. The arena went dead quiet, which is exactly what the Americans wanted.

Early in the second, the Americans had a good chance to double their advantage, but Caufiled got stoned three times by Miftakhov from a sharp angle, and a follow-up shot by Cameron York was blocked by a tag-team of Russian forwards who simultaneously threw themselves in front of the puck.

The Russians were rewarded for their determination by quickly pulling even at the 2:26 mark on what was almost a carbon copy of the American goal. Iskhakov took the puck away from Stastney at the Russian blue line, ran down the right side and, with a teammate on his flank, shot the puck to the near side instead, beating Knight between the glove and the pad.

After that, the game seemed to have settled into a pattern where the Americans controlled possession and dominated shot attempts, while Russians tried to capitalize on quick rushes and neutral zone mistakes. The hosts also played an extremely tight defensive game, making the Americans work for every scoring chance and blocking everything from the high slot. The penalty issues, which they experienced in abundance in the preliminary round, weren’t evident either.

The Russians’ patience almost paid off with less than four minutes left in the second, when Marchenko once again found himself alone against Knight and chose to shoot high, but missed wide on the short side.

The third period began with a glorious chance for the top US scorer Jack Hughes who got a nice no-look pass from Joel Farabee in the right circle and one-timed it short side, but Miftakhov stretched out to snag it with his glove for a spectacular save.

Six minutes into the period, the Americans put on enormous pressure in the Russian zone, coming closest when Patrick Giles’ behind-the-back from the low slot glanced off the goal post.

Midway through the period, Knight got to flaunt his reflexes, too, as he calmly saved a monstrous slap shot from the high slot by Iskhakov.

The US go-ahead goal came short-handed after Jacob Wise took a penalty for slashing the Russian goalie. Stastney tired to ice the puck and hit Farabee at the blue line. The winger promptly picked it up, ran through the neutral zone, and beat Miftakhov with a blistering wrist shot to the far side at 12:52.

"It started with the faceoff win, I think that was huge", said Farabee. "Stastney cleared it, at it kind of hit Pivo (Jacob Pivonka), and then it kind of hit my butt. We got a two-on-one, and I thought I could beat him glove side, so that's where I went."

The game was not decided until 2:38 left, when Hughes’ shot was saved, but the diving Wahlstrom stuffed it into the net to make it 3-1.

"We played pretty well all game", said Zybin. "But a silly mistake on the power play cost us the game. The plan was for Morozov to pull back a bit and cover the blue line, but they didn't get it right. They played all out on offense and got a goal against."

Wise secured the victory with an empty-netter after Iskhakov broke his stick on an attempted shot at the blue line. Hughes added one more with seven seconds left as a punctuation mark. This goal has tied Hughes with the fellow 17-year-old Maxim Cajkovic of Slovakia atop the tournament scorer table.

It's Czech Republic now for the Americans, a surprising semifinalist after their win over over Canada.

"We played them in February at the Five Nations", said Hughes. "They are a good team and we are not going to take them for granted. We just need to play the American way, play fast."

 

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