Team USA is one win away from playing for a gold medal in the World Junior Championships in Finland. The only team standing in the way is the one that eliminated them last year -- the Russians. Here are three things to watch before Monday's 1 p.m. ET showdown between the Americans and Team Russia in the WJC semifinals:
1. Revenge: Team USA captain Zach Werenski said his group was holding a team meeting on the eve of the Russia game, where he planned to remind his teammates about what did them in last year against the Russians.
"This is the team that knocked us out, and penalties killed us," Werenski said by phone from Finland on Sunday afternoon. "We just have to go out there and play our game and stay disciplined."
Werenski, who plays at the University of Michigan and was a 2015 first-round pick by the Columbus Blue Jackets, was part of the group that was knocked out of the tournament last year in the quarterfinals with a 3-2 loss to Team Russia. Team USA had five penalties in the first period of that game, dropping into an early 2-0 deficit from which they never recovered.
"The one thing that sticks out to me last year is we didn't get too many bounces in the quarterfinal game," Werenski said. "When they got their chances, they capitalized."
2. No Canada (or Nylander): This year, Team Canada was the one bowing out in the quarterfinals, following a 6-5 loss to host Finland.
Canada fielded a powerhouse team last year that included star Connor McDavid, but it couldn't follow that gold-medal performance, struggling with losses to the U.S., Sweden and Finland on its way to finishing sixth. It was the first time since 1998 that Canada finished lower than fourth.
"I think everyone is pretty surprised with that," Werenski said of the Canadians' elimination. "It's such a big tournament for them in Canada, you’re used to them going far. It's surprising to see them not in the semifinals or medal round, but the way this tournament is, anything can happen."
If the Americans can beat the Russians, they will face the winner of Finland and Sweden from the other side of the bracket. Sweden is trying to win gold without Toronto Maple Leafs prospect William Nylander, ruled out for the rest of the tournament following a head injury suffered early in the tournament against Switzerland.
3. Matthews' greatness: Auston Matthews came into this tournament with high expectations and has delivered. He is coming off a hat trick against the Czechs and leads the tournament with seven goals.
With one more goal, he will equal the record for most goals by an American in this tournament, a mark held by Jeremy Roenick since 1989.
Matthews, an Arizona native, is considered the favorite to go first overall in the 2016 draft, and this performance is only solidifying those projections.
"He's such a complete player," Werenski said. "That's what separates him from other guys. He wants to win and will do whatever it takes to win. He has everything else. It's been a special tournament so far."