The elimination round opponent was familiar and so was the result Monday, as the United States’ run for glory at the 2016 IIHF World Junior Championship came to a halt with a 2-1 semifinal loss to Russia.
Sabres prospect William Borgen (2015, fourth round) maintained his steady defensive posture throughout, showing soft hands with short outlet passes while serving as an effective penalty killer en route to finishing the game with a minus-1 rating.
His body and stick positioning were key as the Americans killed off a two-man disadvantage in the opening period, and he became more involved offensively as the Americans pushed the pace late in search for the equalizer.
Through six tournament games, Borgen has compiled two assists, five shots on goal and a plus-4 rating while gaining valuable experience on the international stage.
Russia controlled the puck for the first five minutes with some excellent cycling along the walls, but the U.S. settled into their speed-based game shortly thereafter and was the first to hit pay dirt at 9:03 with a goal off the stick of Christian Dvorak (ARI).
Sonny Milano (CBJ) accepted a pass from captain Zach Werenski (CBJ) and carried the puck down the left side with his linemates crashing the net. Anders Bjork (BOS) drove the middle lane and just missed the centering feed, but Dvorak made no mistake as the second man as he deposited the puck past Ilya Samsonov (WSH) to give the U.S. a 1-0 lead at the first intermission.
Russia battled back to take control in the second period, outshooting the U.S. 13-5 before eventually connecting for a pair of goals late in the frame.
The first came with 4:52 remaining when a mass of bodies, including Borgen, converged in front of U.S. netminder Alex Nedeljkovic (CAR). Pavel Kraskovski (WPG) was there to bang home a second chance for his second goal of the tournament.
Russia struck again less than three minutes later when Yegor Korshkov (2016) faked a shot and spun into a net drive past Werenski before sneaking a shot between Nedeljkovic’s skate and the post to make it a 2-1 Russian lead.
The U.S. power play was unable to convert two opportunities early in the final stanza, and that proved to be the downfall with the Russians keeping their feet moving at even strength all period long to close out the victory.
Nedeljkovic stopped 31 shots for the Americans in the loss. Samsonov earned the win with 26 saves at the other end.
Russia, who previously sent the U.S. packing with quarterfinal round victories at both the 2014 and 2015 World Junior Championships, moves on to face Finland for the gold medal Tuesday (1:30 p.m. ET, NHL Network).
The United States squares off with Sweden for the bronze medal (9 a.m. ET, NHL Network).
Finland vs. Sweden
In the day’s first semifinal, Finland overcame an early deficit to claim a 2-1 triumph over archrival Sweden and earn the right to play for the gold medal in front of their home fans.
Rasmus Asplund (2016) gave Sweden a 1-0 lead at the end of the first period, but the Finns took over in the middle frame with markers from Roope Hintz (DAL) and Antti Kalapudas to take a one-goal advantage in the final 20 minutes. Mikko Rantanen (COL) and Kasperi Kapenen (TOR) recorded assists on both of the Finnish goals.
Finland locked it down it down in the third period as goaltender Kaapo Kahkonen (MIN) finished with 21 shots to earn the victory. Sweden received 26 saves from Linus Soderstrom (NYI), who earned a 1-0 shutout victory over the Americans in the preliminary round.
For more on all the youngsters in the Sabres pipeline, check out Kris Baker’s website, SabresProspects.com. You can also follow him on Twitter (@SabresProspects) for in-game updates throughout the week on any Buffalo prospects that are in action. Stay with Sabres.com throughout the World Junior Championship for recaps from Kris.