VICTORIAVILLE, Quebec – Chris Wilkie (Omaha, Neb.) netted two goals and Sonny Milano (Massapequa, N.Y.) recorded two assists, but the U.S. National Under-17 Team was edged by Russia, 6-4, in the 2013 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge semifinals here tonight at the Colisee Desjardins. Team USA will now face Canada's Team Quebec in the third-place contest tomorrow.
"We battled hard throughout and I'm proud of our guys," said Danton Cole, head coach of the U.S. National Under-17 Team. "Russia played a great game and it came down to special teams play in the end. We'll move on and prepare for the third-place game."
Wilkie opened scoring at 2:14 of the first period, backhanding a rebound past Russian netminder Maxim Sidorov. Dominic Turgeon (Cherry Hills, Colo.) and Louis Belpedio (Skokie, Ill.) collected assists on the power-play strike. Team USA doubled its lead when Milano and Wilkie connected on a give-and-go play in front of the net. Wilkie tipped the puck in for the tally. Alex Tuch (Baldwinsville, N.Y.) also registered an assist on the marker. Thirteen seconds later, Russia sliced the American lead in half. Team USA took a 2-1 advantage into the intermission.
Russia knotted the game, 2-2, at 15:27 of the second stanza. Austin Poganski (St. Cloud, Minn.) answered with a power-play goal to regain the lead for Team USA. The tally, scored at 18:56, was assisted on by Ryan Bliss (Bedford, N.H.) and Ryan Hitchcock (Manhasset, N.Y.).
Forty-five seconds into the third period, Russia scored with the man advantage to tie the game, 3-3. Team USA was whistled for back-to-back infractions that then led to a 5-on-3 score by the Russians at 4:42 and a 5-on-4 goal 35 seconds later. Russia scored its third straight tally at 5:17 to take a 5-3 lead over the U.S., before Jack Glover (Golden Valley, Minn.) pulled Team USA to within one goal at 7:51. Nathan Billitier (Spencerport, N.Y.) and Milano recorded assists on Glover's power-play score. An empty net goal with 26 seconds remaining in the game sealed the victory for Russia and the U.S. fell, 6-4.
Chris Birdsall (Glen Rock, N.J.) made 21 saves in the loss for Team USA, while Sidorov stopped 26 shots in the win for Russia.
The U.S. National Under-17 Team will face Quebec tomorrow (Jan. 4) at 3:00 p.m. EST. The game will be held at Centre Marcel Dionne in Drummondville, Quebec. A full schedule and results can be found below.
(Nathan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)