|2008 U18 World Junior Championships|
WC Under-18: Russia edges Canada in classic show down.
Kazan - With a great performance by its second and third line, the championship hosts rally past Canada to get out with a 4-2 win in the long-awaited match against Russians’ main rivals.
The game has started well for Canadians, who had some chances especially because of strong play by their frontman Jordan Eberle. Pechursky was solid in the crease and at the fifth minute Russia got the first good moment as Kulikov launches Petrov in the offensive zone with a great diagonal pass. The home talent centers in for the rushing Filatov, who doesn’t manage to hook up the puck just in front of Canadian netminder Jake Allen. Canada has played their usual physical kind of hockey they always display in international tournaments, sometimes well over the edge, and in the game they suffered of many penalties because of dirty hits, even if maybe a bit less than they should got. But the one who got ejected was a Russian, as at the thirteenth period the referees whistle a Butt Ending, game misconduct penalty against hot prospect Nikita Filatov. CSKA player will be substituted in the top line by Anton Lazarev. Even without their best player the Russians remain strong as they work out very well to kill the long 5 minutes shorthand period, leaning on Pechusrky’s shoulders, capable to stop in stile Cuma at the sixteenth minute in the rush that was probably Canada’s best chance of the first twenty minutes.
The second period was absolutely more entertaining than the first one. A few moments after Pechursky saves nicely a shot by Jordan Eberle, Canadian defense forgets Kugryshev in the neutral zone. The CSKA player gets the puck from behind and catapults towards Allen to score a nice breakaway tally to get ahead with the first goal of the game. Kugryshev will have to be taken off the ice later on, as he suffered from torn shoulder ligaments. Surgery is needed for him, his tournament is already finished. A few seconds after, Russia gets near to the second goal when Petrov serves Loktionov, but the center misses the shot. Midway through the second period the game changes as Canadians get the tie. After some penalties called on both sides, Canadians get a double powerplay opportunity and don’t waste the chance as after some manoeuvred play Ellis finds the right angle to make it a tied game with a big point shot. A bit later Canada doubles the score, Robak launches Duchesne who from the left circle puts in between Pechursky’s pads.
After Canada’s one-two punch Russia tries to react with the first line and Petrov forces goal scorer Duchesne to the penalty. The home powerplay isn’t good in this occasion, but a new penalty is called some minutes later as Scandella knees at Biryukov deep in the zone. This time the man advantage is good for Russia as their powerplay delivers at the thirty-ninth minute: with a great rush on the right side Petrov fools two defensemen, but Allen deflects his shot behind the crease. The Ak Bars player though recovers the puck and serves Loktionov who gets it and scores one time. The teams head towards the third period with the game tied.
The third period starts with some powerplays for Russia because of Canadian players continue dirty hits, but they only got a couple of good shots with Voinov, good job by the North Americans on the penalty killing. The first few minutes of the last period are good for the Russians as they keep the pressure over the opponents, but at the fifth a call against Yarchuk for diving risks to break down the tempo.
But after a good penalty killing the two teams get back at even strength. Kulemin recovers the puck deep in his own third, serving Grachev in the neutral zone. The center resists to Robak, gets wider on the left and, spoiling the screen by Kulemin, scores past Allen desperately diving down to recover position. Great goal by Lokomotiv’s forward.
Reaction by Canada is really moderate. They also suffered the continue penalties on their side so they practically limit their dangerousness to a shot by Deschamps well blocked by Pechursky. Canadian netminder imitates Pechursky as he stops nicely Loktionov from the slot after Chernov dribbled past one defenseman to serve him right in front of the goalie.
At the sixteenth minute Russia scores the fourth goal and close the match, great wristshot by Chernov that comes in in the top right corner, no fault on Allen. Despite a couple of penalties later in the dyeing seconds of the last period Canada doesn’t manage to reopen the game and Russia can celebrate a well deserved victory.
Russian prospect of the match: Evgeni Grachev.
Not only he scored a beautiful goal that decided the match, Evgeni also played well in the penalty killing situation, never being on the ice when his team allowed goals. He plays well when down of one man thanks to his hockey intelligence and size. With this great performance he legitimated the high rank he gained throughout the whole season despite being rather unknown because of his little play in the RSL compared to other players of this team like Petrov or Voinov.