The World Youth Championship for World Championship III20 for 2020 ended for the United States, after beating Finland 1-0 in the quarterfinals.
It is the first exit for the Americans since finishing fifth in 2015. This defeat ended an impressive four consecutive years with a medal. Although the power of a preliminary group that included Russia, Canada, Germany and the Czech Republic made the Americans’ journey to another, younger crown world more difficult than in previous years, this year’s paper on paper seemed strong enough to be considered a top contender to win.
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The Finns, however, ended every opportunity in another US championship, drowning them with a training force through an aggressive forecheck and held them to just seven shots on the final stage. In addition, Finland has given the US only two chances of playing the whole game – the second coming in the last two minutes of regulation.
What exactly happened in the Czech Republic? Here are four reasons why Americans come home empty-handed.
Apart from his participation Jacques Jones in multiple high quality scoring opportunities, the American defenders had no offensive productive tournaments. Of the 10 competing nations, only Kazakhstan received fewer points (two) from the defenses as the US (five). Conversely, the four leading teams – Canada, Finland, Sweden and Russia – received 17, 17, 19 and 12 points respectively.
One can make a strong argument that the best US defender in terms of production and production potential out of a hurry is Philadelphia Flyers prospect Cam York, who averaged a team-low 5:55 per game and had just been used on equal footing. The team as a whole was strong defensively, but the New York Rangers’ pick K’Andre Miller’s The ugly turnover late in a draw against Canada led to the winner of his game Alexis Lafrenieri. The loss of the opening game prevented the Americans from winning the team and gaining higher seed in the metal round.
Statistics will show that this defense allowed only five goals in equal measure, but their inability to handle the Finnish and Canadian preventive checks had a profound impact on their ability to help tilt the ice to their advantage.
The sentence kills
Make no mistake – the hard work shown by the likes Jack Drury, Spencer Stastney and Parker Ford while a man was visible at the border. But in the end, the penalty kill let the Americans down, especially in the crucial Boxing Day game against Canada, where they were victims three times. They did a hard job killing a four-sided power play early in their first three-day bout against Finland, but the lone goal scored a Joonas Oden stopper while Jack Drury was in the box for anchoring.
Miller was on the ice for five of his eight home runs and himself and his Wisconsin teammate. Emerson made controversial coverage decisions. For the tournament, the US death penalty worked with a disappointing 65.2% success rate – their worst in the last decade.
Depth of grading
For whatever reason, only five American fans in the quarter-final match against Finland played more than 14 minutes, both Alex Turkcott – the fifth overall pick in last year’s draft – and the top scorer Arthur Kaliyev, played less than four minutes in the last period. While it is common practice for a coach to lead their top players in a close game, head coach Scott Sandelin, who is based on two lines throughout the tournament, including the last 15 minutes of regulation against Finland, was enigmatic given his resumes Teenager Holding On Bench.
In retrospect, the intensity and importance of this year’s Group B game may have helped Sandelin justify his slant to his preferred team, but he must be held responsible in part for not finding the right combinations for his two bottom lines.
There are not enough goals from scorers
Raise your hand if you envision three of the most prolific scorers in the history of the US National Team Development Program. – the recent first round picks Oliver Wahlstrom, Turcotte and Cole Caufield – would combine for a trivial goal of five to five in five games.
Although Turcotte and Caufield worked together to win the overtime winner over the Czechs, they failed to see enough ice to influence the game with even force. Granted, they were on the younger side of the roster and are eligible to return next year. but zero goals in regulating the two were a small development, if one could foresee.
Wahlstrom, on the other hand, had no excuse. He is a scorer who saw plenty of ice time in all situations and although he had four assists, his only goal was an insurance mark in the third period against Germany. Wahlstrom led the team with 21 shots and hit the post several times, but could have been better when he needed more.