CRIMMITSCHAU – In another close hockey game between Russia and Canada, it was ironically the Canadian League’s top rookie scorer Nail Yakupov, who sent Canada home without a medal, helping Russia win bronze with a three-goal performance in the 6-4 victory.
Russia vs. Canada 6-4 (1-1, 2-4, 1-1)
Russia got on the scoreboard first midway through the opening period. Nikita Kucherov’s first shot hit a Canadian defender and bounced right back to his stick. Kucherov did not miss on his second chance and shot the puck past Canadian goaltender Andrew D’Agostini, who got his first start of the tournament in the bronze medal game.
Canada responded with a power play goal late in the frame, when Maxim Shuvalov was sent to the box for elbowing. Canadian defender Ryan Murphy wasted no time, firing a blast into the net from the point after teammate Alan Quine won the faceoff.
The game picked up with six goals in the second period. For the Russians it was forward Nail Yakupov who stole the show, scoring off a breakaway to equalize after Canadian Alan Quine scored on the power play. Yakupov added an assist soon after, getting the puck to Vladimir Tkachev in the high slot to put Russia ahead.
Then, with Canada on a power play, Tkachev got the puck in his zone and passed it out to a streaking Yakupov, who outraced the last Canadian defender and fired it through D’Agostini’s legs.
The Russians added another goal with a score from Kucherov on a power play with just under five minutes to go in the period. Canada was finally able to answer back two minutes later, when Ryan Murray’s shot was deflected in front for the team’s third power play goal, bringing the score to 5-3 for Russia heading into the final frame.
After almost coming back from a 4-1 third period deficit in the semi-final, the question on everyone’s mind was whether Canada be able to rally again.
With no score through the first 17 minutes of the third period, the Canadians once again pulled their goalie early down two goals. And as the clock showed 1:40 left to go, Murphy shot the puck on net after a clean faceoff win by the Canadians in the Russian zone. It was deflected in front by forward Brett Ritchie to bring Canada once again within a goal of an improbable comeback.
But it was not to be, as Yakupov was able to get an empty net goal to win the game 6-4 and earn the bronze medal for the Russians. Yakupov (three goals, one assist) and Murphy of Team Canada (one goal, three assists) were voted the game's best players.
(Nathan can be reached at email@example.com)