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Stepan Keeps on Rolling for Team USA

by Staff Writer / New York Rangers
After winning Games 1 and 2 by a combined 14-2 margin, the U.S. Under-20 squad suffered its first loss in a four-game series with Russia on Friday night in Lake Placid, N.Y.

Rangers prospect Chris Kreider, the team's No. 1 pick in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, has played in all three of the USA-Russia series games to date.
The Russians prevailed 6-4 at Herb Brooks Arena, cutting Team USA's series lead to 2-1.

Despite the loss, it was another outstanding offensive night for Rangers prospect Derek Stepan of Team USA. Stepan, the Blueshirts' 2008 second-round pick who is entering his sophomore year at the University of Wisconsin, picked up his fifth and sixth assists of the series on power-play goals by U.S. teammates Matt Donovan and Philip McRae in the third period.

Stepan now has six points in three games against the Russians after not scoring at all during the preliminary intra-squad scrimmages last week.

Both of Stepan's markers on Friday were primary assists, with Donovan's goal cutting the Russian lead to 4-3 at 2:37 of the third and McRae closing out the scoring with 3:03 remaining in the game.

Tied 2-2 after 20 minutes, the game took a big turn in the Russians' favor in the middle period, as Russia struck for a power play goal at 5:09 of the second and an even-strength tally at 12:54.

The U.S. got the score to 4-3 in the third before Russia's Alexander Burmistov notched the eventual game-winner at 5:49 of the third period.
Stepan, Chris Kreider and Ryan Bourque are all on the U.S. squad in Lake Placid, gunning for spots on the 2010 U.S. World Junior Championship tournament team. Seven of the 29 players on the current U.S. squad will be cut before the World Juniors begin in December.

The final game of the USA-Russia series will be played Saturday at 5 p.m.
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