UFA, Russia - Miami University freshman forwards Riley Barber and Sean Kuraly will be bringing some hardware back to Oxford when they return from the World Junior Championship in Russia, where they have been key contributors to the U.S. National Junior Team. The only question is what color the hardware will be, as the RedHawk duo, along with the rest of Team USA, plays Sweden for a gold medal Saturday in the championship game of the 2013 IIHF World Junior Championship.
The gold-medal match between Team USA and Sweden, the defending champion, begins at 8 a.m. ET (7 p.m. local) at Ufa Arena. Fans can watch the game live on NHL Network (DirectTV 215, Dish 403, TWC 324) or watch on their computers with a free, live stream of the broadcast on NHL.com.
Team USA finished third in Group B pool play with a 2-0-0-2 record but downed the Czech Republic, 7-0, in the quarterfinals Jan. 2. The Stars and Stripes then upset Canada, which finished first in Group B, 5-1, in the semifinals on Jan. 3, to advance to Saturday's gold-medal game. The Canadians had beaten Team USA during pool play earlier in the tournament. The Swedes won Group A with a 3-1-0-0 record and topped host Russia, 3-2, in a semifinal shootout to move on to face the Americans.
Barber (Livonia, Mich.) and Kuraly (Dublin, Ohio), who have played on the same line for much of the tournament, have combined for four goals and nine points in six games. Barber has a trio of goals and assists each with his six points tying for sixth on the team while his three goals tie for third on the squad. Kuraly has a goal and two assists so far while posting a +4 rating. His lone goal was the first of the tournament for the U.S. and was the game-winning goal in Team USA's opener against Germany Dec. 27, as he scored just 19 seconds into the game. Barber assisted on Kuraly's goal while both 'Hawks assisted on Team USA's third goal in the 8-0 victory.
Barber scored one of his three goals against Germany as well, as he finished with three points in the opening contest. On Dec. 31, Kuraly picked up his other assist as he had the primary helper on Team USA's fifth goal in a 9-3 win over Slovakia that clinched a spot in the quarterfinals. In the quarterfinal victory over the Czech Republic, Barber tallied two goals, both within four minutes in the second period. He then handed out the primary assist on the first goal in the semifinal win over Canada, as well. Barber's 20 shots on goal are third on the team while Kuraly has put 15 shots on net.
In addition to Barber and Kuraly, Miami has several other ties to players on the U.S. National Junior Team, including forward Tyler Biggs, who played one season for the RedHawks last year before joining the Oshawa Generals of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) this year. Biggs has one assist and a +3 rating in six tournament games for the U.S. while also collecting eight penalty minutes.
Three other members of Team USA, forward Ryan Hartman and defensemen Connor Murphy and Patrick Sieloff, were originally committed to Miami before deciding to play major junior hockey in the OHL for Plymouth, Sarnia and Windsor, respectively. Hartman has two goals and three points with a +4 rating and Murphy has an assist and a +5 rating in six games while Sieloff has seen action in five games.
Miami is the only NCAA team to have more than one player represented on the U.S. National Junior Team, which consists of the top American-born players under the age of 20.