A U.S. team made up mostly of players in their early 20s takes on a more experienced group of Russians, the defending champions, in its penultimate medal-round game. Storyline sound familiar?
The U.S. and Russia clash in the World Hockey Championship semifinals Saturday, streamed on NBC Sports Live Extra at 1 p.m. ET.
The winner faces Canada in the gold-medal game Sunday, live on NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra at 2:30 p.m. ET. The loser gets tournament host Czech Republic in the bronze-medal game Sunday, on NBC Sports Live Extra at 10 a.m. ET.
The U.S. upset Russia 4-2 in group play May 4, but the Russians have only gotten stronger since.
Washington Capitals star Alex Ovechkin flew in after his NHL team was bounced from the playoffs Wednesday. He joins a roster that includes four-time Olympian Ilya Kovalchuk, three-time Olympian Evgeni Malkin, St. Louis Blues leading points scorer Vladimir Tarasenko and Sergey Bobrovsky, who was in goal in the U.S.-Russia game at the Sochi Olympics, won by T.J. Oshie‘s shootout heroics.
The U.S. roster includes one Olympian — defenseman Justin Faulk — and, its youngest player, NCAA Player of the Year as a freshman at Boston University Jack Eichel. Its average age is 24.3 years old.
With a win, the U.S. will clinch its best result at a World Championship since 1960. It has won three Worlds medals since 1962, all bronze.
Russia has won the World Championship four of the last seven years, despite losing twice in the Olympic quarterfinals in that span.
Russian forward Artemy Panarin provided bulletin-board material after beating Sweden 5-3 in the quarterfinals.