There will be no repeat gold medal for the United States team at the World Junior Hockey Championship.
Team USA fell by a 5-3 score to Russia in Thursday’s WJC quarterfinal round, meaning there will be a new champion crowned this weekend in Malmo, Sweden. The United States won its first three games of the annual tournament by convincing margins, but dropped its final two to world powers Canada and Russia.
The final result surely stings for Washington, Pa., native Riley Barber, who served as captain of Team USA in his second WJC appearance. Last year, Barber was one of four Pittsburgh natives, including goalie and tournament MVP John Gibson, to help the United States to gold in Russia.
This time around, the 19-year-old Barber scored six points (4g, 2a) in five games, matching his output in the 2013 event, albeit in one fewer game. He recorded an assist on Nic Kerdiles’ go-ahead goal late in Thursday’s first period, but Russia scored the final three of the quarterfinal showdown to eliminate the United States.
Barber, a Washington Capitals draft pick and current member of the Miami (Ohio) University hockey team, has been lauded for his offensive instincts, which help him make up for his average size (6 feet) at a forward position. Despite this disappointment for Barber, he projects to join Gibson, along with fellow Pittsburghers J.T. Miller, Vince Trocheck and Brandon Saad as former U.S. national junior team contributors making an impact at the pro level.
Barber finished tied for second on Team USA in scoring with defenseman Matt Grzelcyk. Kerdiles paced the squad with seven points.