FARGO-MOORHEAD, USA – In Friday's second World U18 semi-final game, Jerry D'Amigo scored the third-period winner as the USA ousted Canada 2-1 and advanced to face Russia in Sunday's gold medal game. The Russians blanked Finland 4-0 in the first semi-final, as goalie Igor Bobkov made 51 saves. In relegation play, Germany beat Slovakia 5-4 in a shootout.
Canada – USA 1-2 (0-0, 1-0, 0-2)
The Canadians, defending champions from 2008, were just over 10 minutes away from cracking the gold medal game for a rematch with Russia, whom they pounded 8-0 last year in Kazan. But it wasn't to be.
With a furious third-period comeback, the Americans outshot Canada 21-7 and scored two power play goals to come away victorious. Canada will now face Finland for bronze on Sunday. The Canadians have never won a bronze medal at this tournament.
The USA beat Russia for gold in 2002, and lost to Russia in 2007.
After a scoreless opening 20 minutes, Canadian defenceman Dylan Olsen notched his first goal of the tournament on a two-man advantage with just 1:22 left in the second period.
Could Canada hold on to that 1-0 lead? No. The USA's Jerry D'Amigo had other ideas.
A product of USA Hockey's National Team Development Program, D'Amigo assisted on Jeremy Morin's 1-1 tying goal at 9:27 of the third period.
About four minutes later, D'Amigo added the winner on another power play, with Canada's Garrett Mitchell off for slashing. Canada pulled goalie Michael Zador for the extra attacker with 13 seconds left, but it was too little, too late.
"In the third I thought [the Americans] were skating," Canadian coach Mike Johnston told the Canadian Press. "They carried good speed, they had some quick forwards, and as a result, you sometimes take some penalties against speed like that."
Cam Fowler also added two assists for the Americans. Final shots on goals favoured the USA 44-33.
The Americans last won gold in 2006, defeating Finland 3-1 in the final. The host nation is shooting for its sixth straight medal at the IIHF World U18 Championship.
Finland – Russia 0-4 (0-0, 0-2, 0-2)
Evgeni Kuznetsov led the Russian attack with a goal and three assists and Maxim Kitsyn scored twice in this hard-fought affair. Russia claimed its third consecutive berth in the gold medal game at the IIHF World U18 Championship.
Finland, which will face Canada in the bronze game on Sunday, will seek its first IIHF World U18 Championship medal since 2006's silver. Finland's only bronze in this tournament came in 2001 with a 2-1 win over the Czech Republic.
In a penalty-filled first period, neither Finland nor Russia could capitalize with the power play, including a two-man advantage for Finland.
But in the second period, Kuznetsov fed Kitsyn for a power-play tally at 7:37 that proved to be the game-winner. And exactly one minute later, Kuznetsov scored to give Russia a 2-0 lead.
The teams continued to work hard, exchanging penalties and peppering each other's goalies. Shots in the second period were virtually even, favouring Finland 17-16.
The penalties continued to pile up in the third. The Russians couldn't convert with an early two-man advantage. But they solved Finnish goalie Joni Ortio one more time with under two minutes to go, as Kuznetsov set up Alexander Burmistrov for a 3-0 margin. Kitsyn sealed the victory a minute later with an empty-netter.
Bad feeling spilled over at the end of the game as Russia's Stanislav Solovyov was called for boarding and Finland's Mikael Aaltonen took a five-minute major and game misconduct for charging.
Final shots favoured Finland 51-45.
To date, Russia has won more medals at this tournament than any other nation (three gold, three silver, one bronze).
Slovakia - Germany 4-5 (0-2, 1-2, 3-0, 0-0, 0-1)
Thomas Brandl scored the winning goal in the shootout after overtime solved nothing, as Germany squandered a 4-1 lead but managed to prevail over the Slovaks in Friday's relegation action.
The result means that Norway will be relegated to Division I. If Germany beats Norway and Slovakia loses to Switzerland, Germany will get to stay up if it has more or the same number of points as Slovakia. Otherwise, Germany will be relegated. (If Germany beats Norway in overtime and Slovakia loses to Switzerland in overtime, Slovakia would still stay up based on points.)
A pair of first-period goals by Laurin Braun put Germany up 2-0 in the first period. Slovakia's Tomas Jurco cut the deficit to 2-1 with a goal near the midway mark, but the Germans got two power play goals from Matthias Plachta and Benjamin Hufner to go up 4-1 before the second period ended.
Jurco scored again at 7:28 of the third period, and then set up goals by Adam Janosik and Michael Vandas, the latter with 4:24 left, to force extra time. Slovakia outshot Germany 22-10 in the third and 50-38 on the night.
(Nathan also is a writer for Maineiacs Post to Post and the Maine Hockey Journal. He can be reached at email@example.com)