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Bellows helps U.S. into World Juniors semifinal

The drama continued for the United States.

With 7:29 left in the third period, Kieffer Bellows slammed home a puck off the end boards to break a 2-2 tie. An empty-netter from Joey Anderson in the final minute secured a 4-2 win for the Americans in front of 6,242 in KeyBank Center. The win keeps alive their hopes of repeating as gold medalists at the World Junior Championship as the U.S. advanced to the semifinals, facing Sweden at 4 p.m. Thursday in KeyBank Center.

Bellows' goal came after Dylan Samberg fired the puck into the Russian zone, to the left of the net and hard off the end boards. The puck came to a hard-streaking Bellows, who rifled the puck into the net for his second goal of the game.

"I think it was just simple hockey," Bellows said about Samberg's setup on the game-winning goal. "He put the puck in deep. I knew the boards are lively back there so I thought I could just forecheck and put the puck on net and lucky enough it went in."

Bellows opened the scoring for the Americans just 2:18 into the game. Bellows scored on the power play with assists from Brady Tkachuk and Adam Fox.

"His work ethic has been consistent whether he's been scoring or not," Anderson said about Bellows. "He's creating chances and doing the most with the opportunities he's given. I think that's something about him that's very evident and everyone can see the amazing shot he has."

Russia tied it at 10:32 of the first with Marsel Sholokhov streaking down the right wing and the U.S. defense noncommittal about playing him. Sholokhov placed a beautiful backhand to beat American goalie Joe Woll.

But the U.S. came back to regain the lead at 14:34. Kailer Yamamoto took a pass from Casey Mittelstadt, took a shot then fought hard for the loose puck in the slot which he placed inside the right post for a 2-1 lead.

The second period was scoreless, thanks to Woll. While the U.S. held the advantage in shots, Woll has to make some big saves, particularly late in the period when the U.S. started taking penalities -- Trent Frederic and Scott Perunovich both went to the box for high sticking.

Russia tied the game at 3:39 of the third, getting a turnover in their own zone. Andrei Altybarmakyan then used his speed and made a powerful move around U.S. forward Josh Norris,  crossed across the slot and easily beat Woll to knot the score at 2-2.

"I think tonight was a step in the right direction," Anderson said. "I think that was the most consistent 60 we've had and I think as we go on we're going to have to just get better and better."

The U.S. is now 10-7 in quarterfinal appearances at the World Juniors. The playoff format was introduced in 1996. From 1977-95 teams played each other once in a round-robin format with medals awarded based on final standings.

They face a Sweden team which last medaled in 2014, winning silver.

The loss for Russia ended their seven-year streak of winning a medal at the World Juniors which included one gold, three silver and three bronze medals.

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