Happy New Year here in Buffalo from the U.S. National Junior Team. With the tournament having a day off ahead of tomorrow’s quarterfinal games, the U.S. enjoyed a late breakfast before taking part in a team stretch. Later, the team will travel as a team to the Niagara Falls.
TEAM USA VISITS NIAGARA FALLS
With the tournament having a day off ahead of tomorrow’s quarterfinal games, the U.S. National Junior Team took a trip to visit the Niagara Falls. With the area currently enduring an Arctic Blast, a majority of the Falls were frozen and covered in ice.
Heading into tomorrow’s quarterfinals, five U.S. players sit in the top 10 of several statistical categories.
Casey Mittelstadt (Eden Prairie, Minn./University of Minnesota) leads the tournament in points with nine, while being tied for second in both goals (4) and assists (5). Also in the top 10 in both assists and points is Brady Tkachuk (St. Louis, Mo./Boston University), who is tied for sixth in points (6) and seventh in assists (4). Additionally, Kieffer Bellows (Edina, Minn./Portland Winterhawks) is tied with Mittelstadt for second in goals (4).
Among tournament defensemen, Adam Fox (Jericho, N.Y./Harvard University) is tied for sixth in points with four (1-3), while Joseph Woll (St. Louis, Mo./Boston College) ranks third among starting goaltenders in goals against average (2.34) and sixth in save percentage (.893).
As a team, the United States ranks top five in several statistical categories while being the most disciplined team in the tournament with only 11 penalties taken. The U.S. is tied for second in goals scored (20), third in power play efficiency (33.33%) and goals against average (2.46) and sits fourth in save percentage (.886).
LOOK AHEAD: QUARTERFINAL VS. RUSSIA
Tomorrow, the United States (2-1-0-1/W-OTW-OTL-L), which finished second in Group A, will face off against Group B third-place finisher Russia (2-0-1-1/W-OTW-OTL-L) at the KeyBank Center here in Buffalo. The game, which will be televised live on NHL Network, is set for an 8 p.m. ET and tickets are on sale now.
This is the fourth-straight year in which the U.S. and Russia are meeting in the playoff round of the IIHF World Junior Championship. After three-straight losses, including two quarterfinals setbacks (2014, 2015) and one semifinal loss (2016), the U.S. claimed its first-ever playoff round win over Russia with a thrilling 4-3 shootout victory.
The game, which was a rematch of Team USA’s 3-2 preliminary round win, saw the U.S. twice come back from one-goal deficits with goals from Colin White (Hanover, Mass.) and captain Luke Kunin (Chesterfield, Mo.) before White’s second goal of the game gave the U.S. a 3-2 lead. After Russia netted an equalizer and overtime failed to decide a winner, the game went to a shootout. In the initial five-round shootout, both Terry and Jeremy Bracco (Freeport, N.Y.) scored while Parsons made three saves to keep the shootout score tied, 2-2. In the extra rounds, Parsons made two saves and Terry scored twice to secure the win.
TAKE FIVE: JONES, LOCKWOOD
The final Team USA ‘Take Five’ includes forwards Max Jones (Rochester, Mich./London Knights) and Will Lockwood (Royal Oak, Mich./University of Michigan), whose fathers skated together for one season at the University of Michigan.
Jones: Mom’s homemade enchiladas
FAVORITE OFF-SEASON HOBBY:
Jones: Play guitar
PLANS AFTER PLAYING CAREER:
Jones: Be a sports broadcaster
Lockwood: Open my own restaurant
THREE THINGS YOU LOVE ABOUT HOCKEY:
Jones: The relationships, winning and scoring goals
Lockwood: The friends you make, the competitiveness and the feeling of winning
ONE PERSON YOU’D LIKE TO MEET:
Jones: Justin Bieber
Lockwood: Wayne Gretzky