Written by:Joey Labonte
Coming off an enormous shootout win yesterday, Team USA continued on their quest for gold. However, Team Russia would have none of it. Rolling with their momentum, they soared to a 7-4 win, consequently capturing the glorious gold medals at tonight’s game, at the WFCU Centre.
Before the game had even begun, Team USA came out to favourable cheers from the crowd during their warm-up. Once the puck had dropped, those fans were not disappointed. Though the action was back and forth for the first few minutes, Team USA was the one with the early chances. The play was fast paced for most of the period, thus resulting in a USA goal. Close to the midway point of the period, Team USA broke out with a two-on-one inside the Russia blue line. Tyler Kelleher slid it across to fellow American Evan Allen who backhanded it towards the Russian net. The puck found its way in the net and made it 1-0 USA. There were a few more chances later in the period, for both teams. Russia almost scored off a rebound, but Team USA’s John Hayden dove and blocked the empty net. USA almost made it 2-0 when the puck rose in the air, but the Russian goalie regained sight of it, inclosing it in his glove. It was Team USA dominating the opening period, although they were only out shooting Team Russia 16-10. After one period of play, it was USA leading 1-0.
Early pressure from the Americans almost caused an early goal in the second period, but Russian goalie Nikita Serebryakov poke checked the puck, and his teammate would settle it down. Team Russia countered with pressure of its own, and as a result, drew the game’s first penalty. However, they could not make the most of the man advantage, and the score remained 1-0. Later, the Americans would try to add to its score, but again it was Serebryakov coming up with a big glove save. With the pressure momentum shifting back and forth, the next penalty was drawn, and Russia was headed to the penalty box. They did not fret, however. Sergei Tolchinski and Ruzal Galeyev broke out of their zone on a shorthanded two-on-one. Galeyev slid it across to Tolchinski who made no mistake on the one-timer, and the game was now tied at 1. Three minutes later, Russia would score again. Valeri Nichushkin saw a crowd in front of the net, and shot. After hitting a couple of bodies, the puck bounced in, and Russia now had a 2-1 lead. Not even 40 seconds later, USA retaliated with a goal of their own as Will Butcher scored with a wrist shot from the blue line. Their opposition was not ready to sit down yet. Russia’s Nikita Cherepanov would score with a slap shot from outside the blue line to close out the scoring in the second period.
The third period began much like the previous two: back and forth pressure. Russia took control first though, with a penalty shot goal from Tochinski. He skated hard to the net, and beat Hunter Miska with a blocker-side shot. USA would cut the lead to one a minute and a half later, but the goal was overturned after reviewing that the puck had been kicked in. That left the team in frenzy, and Russia took advantage. With 11:34 remaining in the third, the team took a commanding 5-2 lead, as Nichushkin made a pass through the crease that found Ivan Barbashev streaking towards the net. Nevertheless, Team USA was not out yet. On the powerplay, J.T. Compher would receive a pass from Butcher that was one-timed into the net. Once more, with 2:04 remaining in the third, Team USA scored. This time off a faceoff win back to Anthony Louis, who made no mistake of wristing a shot over the glove of Serebryakov. After all the efforts and chances by USA, Russia would seal its victory with 17 seconds left with an empty net goal by Nichushkin. The game would finish 7-4 as the Russians win the gold medal, and Team USA wins silver.
Whether cheering for Team Russia, or Team USA, or neither, hockey fans came to watch good hockey, and good hockey is what they got.
Congratulations Team Russia!