SUMMERSIDE, P.E.I. – After a two-year absence, Russia is back on the podium at the World Junior A Challenge.
Sergey Barbashev scored twice and added two assists and the Russians scored three times in the final 1:25 to pull away late as they earned the bronze medal with a 6-2 win over Canada East on Sunday afternoon at Molson Canadian Arena at CUP.
Russia took home bronze from the inaugural tournament in Yorkton, Sask., in 2006 before finishing fourth and fifth in the last two years. Canada East had won a medal at every WJAC prior to Sunday’s loss.
It was the Russians who came out with jump in the first, outshooting the Canadians 14-7, but Greg Carey had the period’s only goal, chipping a backhand over goaltender Kirill Brashkin on a power play to send Canada East to the dressing room up 1-0.
Semen Zherebtsov got that back for Russia 9:48 into the second period, one-timing a pass from Ildar Isangulov past Canada East netminder Matt Ginn, and Pavel Kulikov scored a carbon copy less than six minutes later to give the Europeans their first lead of the game.
Canada East came out in the third period determined to leave with a medal in the first WJAC on eastern soil, and pulled even on the power play thanks to captain Jacob Laliberte, who beat Brashkin at the 5:48 mark to make it 2-2.
That would be the end of the Canadian momentum, however, as Vladislav Namestnikov restored the Russian lead at the period’s midway point, getting the puck past Ginn on his third chance in close.
Canada East’s best chance to tie the game again came three minutes later, when Alex Guptill was hauled down on a breakaway and awarded a penalty shot. Laliberte was chosen to take the shot, but his effort hit both Brashkin and the crossbar before rolling harmlessly to the corner.
With the Canadians pressing late, Barbashev slipped in behind the defence and turning Ginn inside out with a backhand-to-forehand deke, putting the final nail in the coffin of the easterners.
Nail Yakupov scored into an empty net before Barbashev picked up his second in 65 seconds to round out the scoring.
(Nathan also is a writer for Maineiacs Post to Post and the Maine Hockey Journal. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)