RUSSIA FINISHES ATOP GROUP A WITH SHUTOUT WIN OVER SWISS
WHITBY, Ont. – Nikita Gromov and Mikhail Maltsev scored the goals, and Mikhail Berdin made 18 saves for the shutout as Russia blanked Switzerland 2-0 on Tuesday night to finish preliminary round play at the 2015 World Junior A Challenge.
The win leaves the Russians as Group A winners, and means they advance to Thursday’s semifinals (7 p.m. ET), where they’ll face the winner of the United States-Switzerland quarter-final.
It’s the first time Russia has topped its round-robin group since 2009, and the first time it’s done it with two regulation-time wins since 2007; the Russians also became just the second team to allow one goal or less in the preliminary round, joining Sweden (zero goals against in 2011).
It didn’t take long for the Russians to get on the board; Gromov capitalized on a power play with just 87 seconds off the clock, burying a cross-ice feed from Kirill Slepets.
Despite Russia holding a 21-13 advantage in shots on goal through two periods – including 14-6 in the second – Gromov’s goal would be the lone marker of the opening 40 minutes.
The Russians finally added to their lead just shy of the 12-minute mark of the third period.
After Switzerland failed to clear the defensive zone, Artur Kayumov picked up the puck along the boards and found Maltsev, who fired a shot through a screen and past Swiss goaltender Matteo Ritz for his third goal in two games.
Berdin recorded the second shutout in Russia’s last three games at the tournament; Washington Capitals first-rounder Ilya Samsonov made 46 saves to blank Canada East in last year’s bronze medal game.
The Swiss finished the preliminary round without a win, and will take on the United States in the quarter-finals Wednesday night in Cobourg (7 p.m. ET); the winner of that game takes on Russia in the semis.