|2009 U18 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament|
Ivan Hlinka memorial tournament
In the traditional summer tournament for under-18 national team, dedicated to the memory of the first European ever to coach in the NHL Ivan Hlinka, Team Russia clinched a silver medal, losing in the finals against Canada 8-4 in Piestany, Slovakia. Russia hasn't won at this tournament since 1995. However, this time, Team Russia had to skate in the tournament without one of the brightest prospects of 1991 team, Semen Valuisky, because of an injury he suffered earlier in the summer.
The tournament started off easily for Russian with a 5-1 victory over team USA. With two quick powerplay goals by Georgi Berdyukov and 2010 front runner Kirill Kabanov, Metallurg Magnitogorsk goalkeeper Igor Bobkov allowed a powerplay tally to Bowman. But in the second period the music changed as the Russians outshot their opponents 14-8, making the score 3-1 with a tally from the top level defenseman and team captain Dmitri Orlov. In the third period the game was still within reach for the Americans, but a disciplined game by the Russian squad permitted it to run away with a 4-goals win as Teresenko and Berdnikov beat the American goalkeeper Cullen to raise the score to 5-1. Team USA has iced a very aggressive team, but Plyuschev's guys managed to kill off the passions and to obtained a confident victory in the first match.
In the second round robin game Russia faced the Czech Republic, who lost their opening match after the shoot out relay against Finland. After a first period finished 1-1, with Kuznetsov and Soudev netting the two tallies, Russia tore the game apart in the second period with goals from Anton Burdasov and Maxim Kitsyn, another big talent available for 2010 entry draft. In the last period Pivatsky brought the Russians up by three goals, virtually closing the match. A late powerplay goal by the Czech Polasek completed the scoring at 4-2 in favour of Plyuschev's team.
The third and last match has been Russia - Finland. Due to tournament's rules, the winner would skate in the finals as the two teams were first and second seeds in Group A standings, the winner will face Group B's top seed, Team Canada. The game started tough for the Russians as Raula made it 1-0 at the fourth minute, but then Berdyukov and Berdnikov gave to Plyuschev's team the lead. Late in the first period Mattila tied it up at two. The second period was in Finn favor, as they scored two unanswered goals, but a great come back in the third period gave the game and a ticket into the finals to Russia as they scored five unanswered goals by Kabanov, Kuznetsov, Berdyukov, Kitsyn and Vladimir Tarasenko to finish the game 7-4. The gold medal match there was another classic clash between Russia and Canada.
In that game, 1992 born Kirill Kabanov deflected a shot by Berdyukov on a powerplay stretch giving Russia an early lead, but Ryan Ellis, Simon Despres and Taylor Hall scored three unanswered goals, bringing the game 3-1 after the first 20 minutes. In the second period Canadians heavily outshooted Plyuschev's team 14-4, but a good performance by Dmitri Shikin saved the team, as he allowed only one goal and in the third period the match was still open despite Canada's 3-goal lead. In the third period team Russia played fairly well with two goals (Burmistrov, Tarasenko), but Canadians replied with two goals of their own, thus conquering their fourth gold medal in the last five editions.
The next step for Russia-91 will be the Vyzov tournament in Canada, from November 2nd to 11th, in which Team Russia will face Canada, USA, Germany and Belarus.