US advances to world junior hockey semifinals with win over Russia

U.S. defenseman Dylan Samberg, top, hits Russia’s Artyom Manukyan during the third period of their IIHF World Junior Championships game in Buffalo, N.Y., Tuesday. (AP photo)

BUFFALO, N.Y. — The United States used another late goal to continue its gold medal defense at the world junior hockey championship.

Kieffer Bellows scored his second goal with 7:29 left in the third period to lead the U.S. in a 4-2 quarterfinal victory over Russia on Tuesday night.

Kailer Yamamoto also had a goal, Joey Anderson added an empty-netter and Joseph Woll made 27 saves for the Americans, who will play Sweden in the semifinals on Thursday.

Sweden held on for a 3-2 quarterfinal win over Slovakia earlier in the day to remain unbeaten in the tournament.

A preliminary-round loss to Slovakia put the U.S. on the tougher side of the bracket. The Americans responded to that loss with three straight wins over Canada, Finland and Russia, using third-period goals to pull out each of the victories.

“I think we’re starting to play our best hockey,” U.S. coach Bob Motzko said. “This tournament always has booby traps. We hit ours right away. We got through it.”

Canada will play the Czech Republic in the other semifinal.

Bellows, the son of former NHL All-Star Brian Bellows and a first-round draft pick of the New York Islanders in 2016, skated into a slap shot for the winning goal. Dylan Samberg’s indirect pass of the end boards bounced back to meet Bellows at the left faceoff circle.

“It was just simple hockey,” said Bellows, who leads the tournament with six goals. “He put the puck deep and I knew the boards are lively back there, so I thought I could just forecehck and put the puck on net. Lucky enough it went in.”

The U.S. took a 1-0 lead on Bellows’ power-play goal 2:18 into the game. Bellows celebrated the goal in front of a fan in the stands wearing his father’s old Minnesota North Stars jersey.