February 20th, 2020

Russia reasserts itself

By RYAN MCCRACKEN on November 8, 2019.

Russia's Gleb Ivanov (11) is upended by Team Canada Black's Zach Dean (22) during quarter-final action at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge Thursday, Nov. 7, 2019 at Canalta Centre.


The Russians are one step closer to reclaiming their crown.

Despite being held to just a single win in the round robin stage, the reigning champions rallied to stun Canada Black with an 8-4 victory in Thursday’s World Under-17 Hockey Challenge quarter-final at the Canalta Centre.

“It sucks,” said Canada Black captain Shane Wright, whose squad will finish the tournament with a placement game against Finland Saturday. “There aren’t many other words to describe it. It sucks, it’s horrible. It’s not how any of us envisioned this tournament going. It’s the worst feeling.”

The result sends Russia to Friday’s semifinal against the Czech Republic in Swift Current at 5 p.m., while Canada White – the lone local team still in the mix for gold – will host the Americans in Medicine Hat at 7 p.m.

Canada Black took over Thursday’s early momentum, but it quickly shifted away from them when Max McCue was nabbed for slashing three minutes into the first. With time ticking off the Russian advantage, Vladislav Lukashevich found Mikhail Berezovskiy for a blast from the point to make it 1-0 on Russia’s first shot of the evening.

“We made some bad decisions,” said Canada Black head coach Jody Hull. “We took a few unnecessary penalties. That’s been something we’ve been preaching since Day 1, is our discipline, and it was ultimately the biggest thing that didn’t get us the victory tonight.”

Prokhor Poltapov kept the Russian offence rolling later in the frame, beating netminder Benjamin Gaudreau to leave Canada Black in a 2-0 deficit despite putting just three shots on goal.

Gaudreau’s tough night continued early in the second when Russian forward Matvei Nadvorniy chipped a weak shot through his padding – chasing the Canadian from the crease in favour of William Blackburn.

Canada Black quickly put themselves back into penalty trouble, and Russia made them pay with two straight power play goals from Daniil Lazutin and Poltapov. While the tallies silenced the crowd of 1,832 at Canalta Centre, they seemed to stir something on the Canadian bench.

Staring down the five-goal deficit, Sean Tschigerl took it upon himself to start the road back with a top-corner snipe. Brennan Othmann then rode the new wave of momentum back into the Russian end and beat netminder Valerii Brinkman to narrow the gap to three after 40.

“That was kind of how our mindset was the whole week,” said Wright. “We came back in every single game in the preliminaries. We knew we had a chance if we just played our game. We came out hard, we came out strong, it just didn’t turn out for us this time.”

The Russians went right back to work offensively in the third and Nikita Chibrikov beat Blackburn to steal back the momentum just over a minute into the frame.

Jayden Grubbe and Nadvorniy traded goals later in the frame, then Grubbe struck again after the Canadians opted to pull their goalie with more than seven minutes left.

“We didn’t give up, but it was just kind of too late when we finally got one and tried to start going again,” said Grubbe. “We’ve kind of been like that the whole tournament, we’ve been coming from behind.”

Poltapov hit the open cage to complete his hat trick and eliminate Black from medal contention.

“We played together as a team,” Poltapov said through a translator. “Because of (my linemates) I had three.”

Brinkman collected the victory with a 21-save performance.

Canada White 3, Canada Red 2 (OT)

At Swift Current, Chase Stillman scored with 28 seconds left in overtime to punch Canada White’s ticket to the semifinals with a 3-2 victory over Canada Red.

Dylan Guenther opened the scoring for Canada White, but Connor Lockhart answered just 12 seconds later to keep Canada Red in a tie game despite being outshot 14-4 in the opening frame.

The back-and-forth trend continued after a scoreless second. Riley Kidney converted on a power play to restore White’s lead, but Dovar Tinling knotted the game back up with less than three minutes left on the clock to force overtime.

White goaltender Tyler Brennan earned the victory with a 22-save performance, while Tomas Milic stopped 31 shots in the loss for Red.

White moves into Friday’s semifinal against Team U.S.A. with the victory, while Red will close out their tournament with a placement game against Finland on Saturday in Swift Current.

USA 8, Finland 4

Chaz Lucius scored a hat trick to lead Team U.S.A into the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge semifinals with an 8-4 victory over Finland on Thursday afternoon at the Canalta Centre.

The reigning silver medalist Finns put up a fight, but the U.S. held on to earn its way back into the medal round after missing out on the podium last year.

“I means a lot,” Lucius said of his three-goal performance, which brings him to six on the tournament. “I think as a team we really bounced back there in the second period and things just started to go well for us.”

A goaltending gaffe put the Finns in an early deficit when Paavo Kohonen left his crease to challenge a puck and was stranded in the slot – allowing Justin Janicke to give Team U.S.A. an early lead with a tap-in tally.

“The first (goal) of course was a bad play from Paavo, but after that he took all the shots he was able,” said Finland head coach Petri Karjalainen. “It always goes hand-in-hand with how the unit plays in front of you. The goalie can’t affect what kind of scoring chances the opposition gets. Today, we gave them a lot.”

Finland mustered a response less than two minutes later. After gaining the attacking zone, Niko Huuhtanen fed Viljami Juusola at the point, and he ripped a shot through U.S. netminder Kaiden Mbereko to draw even after 20 minutes.

Lucius re-established the American lead with an unassisted marker five minutes into the middle frame. While Finland again answered in a matter of minutes on a goal from Viljami Marjala, Lucius converted again – this time on the power play – to give the Americans a narrow edge entering the third.

Dylan Duke expanded on the American lead three minutes into the final frame when he cut into the slot and deflected a shot from Sasha Pastujov past Kohonen. Jack Hughes joined the scoring party a few minutes later, then Liam Gilmartin added another on the doorstep before Lucius completed his hat trick.

Samu Tuomaala got one back for Finland with five minutes left in regulation, but Pastujov responded for Team U.S.A. a few minutes later to push the game back out of reach.

Juusola added a consolation tally for Finland in the final second of the third.

Mbereko stopped 25 in the American crease to earn the victory, while Kohonen settled for the loss on 27 saves.

Czech Republic 5, Sweden 1

The Czechs are moving on.

After being held without a victory through the round robin, the Czech Republic pulled off a massive upset with a 5-1 win over Sweden on Thursday in Swift Current to punch their ticket to the semis.

Matous Mensik opened the scoring on a power play three minutes into regulation to give the Czechs an early boost.

Swedish scoring leader Fabian Lysell knotted the game up with a power play goal of his own eight minutes later, but the Czechs answered with back-to-back goals from Ivo Sedlacek and Marek Brada to carry their lead into the second.

Martin Rysavy stretched the lead to three goals in the second period, then Sedlacek notched his second of the afternoon early in the third to push the game out of reach.

Czech goaltender Tomas Suchanek stopped 25 shots to claim the victory, while Sweden’s Carl Lindbom settled for the loss with 22 saves.

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