ROMANOV SCORES LATE, SENDING RUSSIA TO SEMIS AT WJAC
JASON LA ROSE
TRURO, N.S. – Alexander Romanov scored the game-winning goal into an empty net with 1:51 to go, giving Russia a 3-2 win over Switzerland, first place in Group A and a bye to the semifinals at the 2017 World Junior A Challenge on Tuesday afternoon.
It is the third year in a row that Russians have won their group and advanced through to the final four; they will return to action Thursday, with the time and opponent yet to be determined.
With the Swiss needing the full three points to have a chance at first place, they pulled goaltender Luca Jan Hollenstein with just over two minutes left and the game tied 2-2.
Romanov gathered in a loose puck in his own zone and hit the empty net from 190 feet for the winner.
Offence was hard to come by early with both teams combining for a meager six shots on goal in the first 15 minutes, although Semyon Kizimov and Julian Mettler traded first-period posts.
Special teams got the Russians on the board before the end of the opening frame; Ivan Morozov went to the backhand to beat Hollenstein for a shorthanded goal at 16:49, and Nikita Okhotyuk hammered in a point shot on the power play at 19:00 to make it a 2-0 game after 20 minutes.
The Swiss got one back late in the second period when Kyen Sopa went low to the blocker side past Russian netminder Amir Miftakhof on the power play, and Andreas Dopfner toe-dragged around a defender and went five-hole on Miftakhof to tie the game at 7:58 of the third.
Russia, which managed just nine shots in the first two periods, finished with a 25-22 advantage.
The loss leaves the Swiss in third place in Group A and means they will take on the winner of the late game between Canada West and the United States in the quarter-finals on Wednesday (time to be confirmed).