If you’re a Russian hockey fan and you like goals, Wednesday night’s game versus the United States was fun to watch.
Russia toppled the Americans 8-3 in the final preliminary-round game for Pool B at Red Deer’s Servus Arena.
Both teams were 2-0 and tied in points heading into the game, but it proved to be a one-sided affair with Russia outshooting USA 55-19.
“I didn’t expect that,” confessed Russian head coach Vladimir Filatov on the score, speaking through a team translator. “But if we want to win this tournament, we have to play the second period as good as the others.”
Following a dominant first period in which the Russian side limited USA to just three shots while posting 21 of their own, they found themselves up 3-0.
But it wasn’t halfway through the middle frame before USA had somehow found the net three times on just five shots to bring things square.
The third period, however, was a totally different story.
“It was a tough start, but we’re a resilient team. The message in the locker room was to keep things simple,” said American forward and New Jersey native John Farinacci who assisted on the tying goal. “I don’t really know what got away from us, but we still kept working hard. Nothing really went wrong; they just played a really good game tonight.”
Team USA now looks ahead to a semi-final test against Canada, who won 4-3 over Sweden in Edmonton on Wednesday. The Tre Kronor will see Russia on the other side of the bracket.
“We were trying to run and gun with these guys, and the game against Canada is going to be super hard for us,” said USA head coach Cory Laylin. “But we just have to get back to the basics because once you’re down, you play a little riskier. We’ve got really good goaltending so we’ve got to help those guys out too.”
Echoing the sentiments of Russian coach Filatov, Laylin praised tournament organizers for making the experience in Red Deer a memorable one.
“It’s been fantastic. The people have been great, the facilities are fantastic, and I can’t say enough nice things about how Red Deer has welcomed us,” he said. “We’re so excited to go to Edmonton and get a crack at playing there.”
Earlier Wednesday, the Czech Republic defeated Finland 4-3 in overtime at Servus Arena. In Edmonton, Slovakia downed Switzerland 5-3. Those four teams will play consolation games later this week.
In the two semis, Russia and Sweden meet Friday at 3 p.m. while Canada and USA go toe to toe at 7 p.m., both games at Rogers Place in Edmonton.
The bronze medal and gold medal games go Saturday at 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. respectively, also at Rogers Place.
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