Russia 7 - Czech Republic 2
RUSSIA WINS GROUP B AND LEAVES CZECHS THIRD
By Kevin Parnell | Box Score
Russia became the second team to complete a perfect Round Robin portion of the 2006 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship with a convincing 7-2 win over the Czech Republic Saturday night in Kelowna.
The Russians were workmanlike through the first two periods, holding 1-0 and 2-0 period leads before pouring it on in the final stanza and scoring five goals.
The win allowed Russia to join Canada as the top two teams in their respective pools. Each receives a bye to the semi-finals on January 3.
Roman Voloshenko scored a pair of goals, and Evgeni Malkin was a focal point once again, scoring a beauty, setting up two others, and even being handed a penalty for diving.
“The most difficult games are still to come,” said Malkin through an interpreter after the game. “I hope that we will use the rest. The players need it.”
Sergei Shirokov, Ilia Zubov, Alexander Radulov and Enver Lisin also scored for the Russians who dominated their opponents in Group B, outscoring them 21-6 in their four wins
Russian Head Coach Sergey Mikhalev said the scores of the games weren’t an indication of easy games for his team.
“All of the games have been difficult and we had to play our best,” said Mikhalev. “We accomplished our goal, to finish as the first team in the group, and I don’t have any criticism of the way my team played.”
Petr Pohl and Vladimir Sobotka scored third period goals for the Czech Republic. The Czechs were outplayed from the get-go, although they did outshoot the Russians 19-11 in the third period and 37-28 overall. Many of the shots were from the perimeter, however.
The Czechs started Radek Fiala in goal for the second straight game instead of former Vancouver Giant Marek Schwarz. Despite allowing seven goals, Fiala was excellent and was left to fend for himself for much of the third period.
“Our decision to start Radek was because he played good yesterday and also against Sweden,” explained Czech Head Coach Radim Rulik. “I cannot say if we will start Radek or Marek for the next game. It is too fresh and it is two days away. It’s not an easy decision.”
Russian netminder Anton Khudobin improved on his already-stellar tournament, making 35 saves. He was named the player of the game for Russia. Entering the game, Khudobin led the tournament with a .948 save percentage.
Team Russia now moves straight into the semi-finals to be held January 3 in Vancouver, while the Czech Republic have a January 2 date with the Americans.
Both teams will spend New Year’s Eve in Kelowna before leaving for Vancouver on January 1.
PREVIEW: RUSSIA - CZECH REPUBLIC
By Kevin Parnell
Russia: The Russians have already secured a spot in the Final Round of the 2006 World Junior Championship. But with three straight wins, they have yet to really be tested by a team that can skate with them.That will change Saturday night in Kelowna when the Russians face the Czech Republic with first place in Group B on the line. A loss would drop the Russians even with the Czech Republic at 3-1, and would put the Czechs in first due to their head-to-head victory. So Team Russia will look to fire up its powerful offense and solid defence to hold off the Czechs. Russian star Evgeni Malkin has wowed the crowds in the two past performances in Kelowna and will no doubt have an impact again. But it has been the team offence that has impressed with the Russians, as their scoring is spread around. Six players have three or more points and nine players have two or more through the team’s first three games. Goalie Anton Khudobin has also been excellent so far, and should return in goal along with his .948 save percentage after watching backup Semen Varlamov get the win against Latvia.
Czech Republic: The Czechs seemed more relieved than happy with their 5-3 win over Slovakia Friday night and will need to be better against Russia. This team may have a goaltending controversy, since backup Radek Fiala played well Friday in the win over Slovakia after a relief appearance in the team’s 3-2 loss to Sweden, where he didn’t allow a goal. On the bench has been Marek Schwarz, the top goalie in the tournament last year and the consensus number one entering the tournament. Czech Republic coach Radim Rulik hasn’t committed to who he is starting in the game. But Fiala has been very good and Schwarz is no doubt looking forward to rebounding from a sub-par performance against Sweden. No matter who is in net, the Czechs will have to tighten up defensively after allowing 37 shots against Slovakia. Offensively, QMJHL players David Krejci and Petr Pohl will be leaned upon. But the Czechs need more scoring from players like Martin Hanzal and the highly touted Michael Frolik. Hanzal has two assists and Frolik has zero points to date.
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André Brin Director, Communications | Directeur, communications