It’s not often that a championship final contains an upset, but that’s exactly what happened as Russia took home the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge gold with a 2-1 victory over the heavily favoured Americans.
The last time the Russians grabbed the gold at the tournament, the team managed to beat, you guessed it, the Americans 7-5 in a high scoring affair back in 2012. High scoring wasn’t exactly the story on Saturday, however.
With two minutes to go in the first, Vitali Abramov forced an American turnover which allowed Maxim Bain to beat goaltender Jake Oettinger for the 1-0 lead in the first. Alexander Yakovenko doubled up Russia’s lead five minutes into the second after absolutely destroying the puck with a wicked slap shot that Oettinger only wishes he was able to stop.
If anyone was going to score for USA, it was going to be Max Jones. Finishing the tournament in second place in scoring with 11 points, seven of which were goals, got the U.S. on the board with 90 seconds left with a quick shot to force a close game. The Americans pulled Oettinger in a desperate attempt to repeat as gold medalists, but their energy appeared to be drained as Russia skated away with the U17 championship for 2014. It was a disappointing finish for the Americans, who looked like the favourites thanks to the great play from Jones and Clayton Keller, the top two scorers after six games of play.
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