J.T. Compher watches as his shot hits the net behind Russian goaltender, Igor Shestyorkin. Photo courtesy of HHOF-IIHF Images.
SOCHI, Russia – Tyler Kelleher (Longmeadow, Mass.) and J.T. Compher (Northbrook, Ill.) scored in the shootout and Thatcher Demko (San Diego, Calif.) stopped both opposing shooters, leading the U.S. Men's National Under-18 Team past Russia, 4-3, in a shootout here tonight at the Bolshoy Ice Dome in the semifinal round at the 2013 International Ice Hockey Federation Under-18 Men's World Championship. Team USA will compete for its fifth straight gold medal against Canada on Sunday.
"I'm proud of how hard we played tonight," said Don Granato, head coach of the U.S. National Under-18 Team. "We'll take a moment to enjoy this victory, but its right back to work tomorrow. Any time you have an opportunity to play for a medal is special and we look forward to a great matchup with Canada."
Team USA opened scoring at 16:09 of the first period on the power play. Michael McCarron (Macomb, Mich.) jammed the puck past Russian netminder Igor Shestyorkin in a scramble in front of the net.
Early in the second stanza, the U.S. was whistled for two penalties simultaneously resulting in a 5-on-3 opportunity for Russia. Team USA killed off all but 15 seconds of the two-man advantage before surrendering the game-tying goal at 5:14. Russia then took a 2-1 lead at 12:49.
Tommy Vannelli (Minnetonka, Minn.) evened the score at 4:04 of the third period, wristing a shot past Shestyorkin. Kelleher created the opportunity by skating toward the front of the crease, holding the puck and freezing the goalie, before dropping it back to Vannelli who buried the puck. Evan Allen (Sterling Heights, Mich.) also assisted on the play. Russia regained the lead at 16:41, before Anthony Louis (Winfield, Ill.) struck back for the U.S. Falling down; Louis knocked it off Shestyorkin's leg pad and into the net. Time expired in the third period with the squads deadlocked at three.
Team USA put seven shots on net in the extra frame, while Russia had five. Both netminders turned aside each shot they faced to force a decisive, three-round shootout.
Kelleher scored first in the shootout, while Demko made a stop on Russia's first shooter. After a U.S. miss and another save by Demko, Compher lit the lamp to send Team USA to the gold-medal game on Sunday.
The U.S. Men's National Under-18 Team will face Canada in the gold-medal game on Sunday (April 28) at 8 p.m. local time (12 p.m. EDT), at the Bolshoy Ice Dome. The gold-medal game will be streamed live on FASTHockey.com. Team USA's complete schedule can be found below.
Steven Santini (Mahopac, N.Y.) was named Team USA's Player of the Game ... The U.S. outshot Russia, 57-29 ... Team USA finished 1-for-4 on the power play, while Russia went 1-for-5 with the man advantage ... Twenty-two players on the U.S. roster come from USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program ... The U.S. enters the tournament having captured a record nine consecutive medals, including back-to-back gold medals in 2005-06, four straight gold medals from 2009-12, two silver medals (2004, 2007) and one bronze medal (2008). Team USA’s seven gold medals are the most of any country in IIHF Under-18 Men's World Championship history (event began in 1999). Team USA earned its first gold medal in 2002.
Igor Shestyorkin (54 saves)
Steven Santini (31:45 TOI)