Wednesday, December 26, 2012

OT goal gives Russia 3-2 win

Press Release

Buoyed by a raucous sell-out crowd at Ufa Arena, Russia opened their hosting of the 2013 U20 with an entertaining 3-2 win over Slovakia tonight. Albert Yarullin with a power-play goal and only 10 seconds left in the overtime was the hero.

Slovakia was inferior in every aspect of the game at the start, notably speed and skill with the puck. The Russians began in a blaze, and although the Slovaks weathered the storm, the home side was patient, knowing if it kept skating good things would happen.

The Russians opened the scoring on a beautiful play deep in the Slovak end. Mikhail Grigorenko got the puck on the right side and waited for Nikita Kucherov to arrive at the net. Kucherov eluded defenceman Richard Buri and got his stick on the ice as Grigorenko’s pass came across, and Adam Nagy had no chance in the Slovak goal.

That goal deflated the Slovaks, and they were lucky to escape the first down only a goal. They tested Andrei Vasilevki precious few times and didn’t show any signs of being able to recover from the overwhelming opening period.

But overcome they did, albeit briefly. The Slovaks were by far the better team in the first half of the middle period, but they came away empty-handed for their efforts. Richard Mraz had the puck behind the Russia goal and with no passing lane open he attempted to play the puck lacrosse style. He was unable to flip the puck onto his stick blade, though, but he deserves an A for effort.

Moments later Tomas Mikus made a nice deflection in front but Vasilevski got a pad on the puck, and a little later Marko Dano blasted a shot well wide on a turnover. The inability to covert cost the Slovaks dearly.

 They were guilty of a mid-ice turnover of their own, and Russia counter attacked with lightning speed. Alexander Khokhlachyov finished a nice passing play by ripping a shot past Nagy at 8:28 to make it 2-0 and deflate the Slovaks once again.

Four minutes later, Nagy robbed Kucherov on a clean break to keep the game close. The Slovaks then got on the board to make that save mean something. On a delayed penalty, the puck around Vasilevski’s crease, Matus Matis banged in a loose puck to cut the Russian lead in half at 14:12.

The Slovaks were again the better team in the third period and had the only three power play opportunities. The last was the critical one as they tied the game with 36.4 seconds left, sending the game to overtime. Richard Mraz was the marksman, his weak shot eluding Vasilevski.

 (Nathan can be reached at

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