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As far as dress rehearsals go, it would be hard to find one much better than the United States-Russia ice hockey match at the Lillehammer 2016 Winter Youth Olympic Games on Thursday. The USA won 4-2 in a high-tempo game.
The USA will play Russia again on Friday (19 February, 20:00), in the men’s semi-final, while Canada face Finland in the other last-four tie (at 17:00).
USA and Russia players shake hands at the end of their preliminary round match. Photo: YIS / IOC Al Tielemans
“It will be intense,’’ said USA captain Mattias Samuelsson, and on the evidence of Thursday evening’s clash he is likely to be proved right.
Russia coach Yevgeni Filinov said: “We lost today and we are a little down now. Before [Friday’s] game we have to do a lot of physiological work on our guys, but that’s why we are here,’’ said Russia coach Yevgeni Filinov. “We can achieve anything if we are well prepared. That is why we will play more aggressively in attack and more strictly in defence.”
Canada beat Norway 6-0 to finish tied with the United States with nine points at the top of the standings, with Canada awarded first place thanks to their 4-2 win over the United States in the preliminary round.
“We were making too many individual plays against Canada and you are not going to beat good teams doing that,” said head coach Paluch. “We didn’t play like that today.”
The Russians now have it all to do on Friday. “We have to be one piece of team, we have to stay together,” said Kirill Nizhnikov. “We did not do that today.’’
The women’s semi-finals will also take place on Friday, with Sweden facing Slovakia at Kristins Hall and Czech Republic taking on Switzerland at the Youth Hall. Both matches are scheduled for 14:00.
Written by YIS / IOC Alan Adams
Alan Adams is a reporter for the Lillehammer Youth Information Service ‘YIS’. Based in Toronto, Canada, he has covered sports since the mid-1980s including covering five Winter Olympic Games.