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U.S. fails to medal for second straight year at WJC

by Sean Farrell /

MONTREAL -- Jack Eichel and the United States were eliminated from the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship on Friday, marking the second straight year that they will not be competing for a medal at the tournament.

The United States lost 3-2 against Russia in their quarterfinal game at Bell Centre. Russia won 5-3 in a 2014 WJC quarterfinal against the United States, which won gold in 2012, but will not play for a medal for the third time in four years.

Eichel, a consensus top-two pick in the 2015 NHL Draft, had an assist on Anthony DeAngelo's power-play goal Friday and finished the tournament with one goal and three assists in five games.

"I don't think I did enough. I don't think we did enough as a team," Eichel said. "You're never satisfied with yourself, especially when you lose in the quarterfinals. I could have buried more chances and been a little better in my own zone. I definitely can take a lot out of this tournament and get better moving forward."

Eichel is one of five U.S. players who lost to Russia last year in Malmo, Sweden.

DeAngelo (Tampa Bay Lightning) believed that the United States was strong enough to compete for the gold medal.

"It's definitely not what we expected, not what we were looking for, so it's tough to swallow," DeAngelo said. "We thought we were just as good as any team in this tournament, and I still do, but we're not going to have a chance to show it, so it is what it is now."

The United States (2-1-0-2) outscored its opponents 11-1 while winning its first three games for the sixth time in eight years. A 5-3 loss to Canada on New Year's Eve meant a second place finish in Group A that set up a quarterfinal rematch against Russia, which finished third in Group B in Toronto.

The United States was the least-penalized team through the preliminary round with 13 minors for 26 penalty minutes. It took eight penalties Friday against Russia. Five of those were called in the first period, including minors 21 seconds apart to Tyler Motte (Chicago Blackhawks) and Ryan Collins (Columbus Blue Jackets) before Russia scored on a 5-on-3 power play at 2:31.

"One of our strengths was our depth," U.S coach Mark Osiecki said. "Unfotunately we couldnt' show that [Friday]."

Defenseman Will Butcher (Colorado Avalanche), and forwards Dylan Larkin (Detroit Red Wings) and Hudson Fasching (Buffalo Sabres) were named the United States' top three players of the 2015 WJC.

Larkin led the United States with five goals and seven points in five games, and Fasching had a goal and two assists.

Butcher assisted on DeAngelo's power-play goal Friday for his first point of the tournament.

"I thought we had a whole other level we could have reached," goalie Thatcher Demko (Vancouver Canucks) said. "That being said, it's a short tournament, and you don't have the luxury of having time to sort those things out. You kind of have to hit your stride a little earlier than we did."

Forward Auston Matthews, a 2016 NHL Draft prospect, is among the leading candidates to compete for the United States at the 2016 WJC in Helsinki. Matthews had a goal and two assists in his WJC debut.

"Overall we like the group that was in that locker room," Osiecki said. "Maybe our youth showed up a little bit, but we like the way that they put an effort in. They were prepared [Friday] and I think when they came out I think they were focused and they've got to walk out of that locker room with their heads held high."

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