Russia and USA come up big in quarterfinals at U18s

By Jeff Dahlia

Russia continues to roll, downs Sweden 4-1

Bobkov’s solid performance helps Russia advance

Like a locomotive barreling down the Trans-Siberian railway, Team Russia blew past Sweden to advance to the semifinal match up against Finland tomorrow afternoon. Even though Team Sweden struck first, the Russian’s charged back, never relinquishing their 4-1 lead. The Swedes kept the pressure on all night long, but goalie Igor Bobkov’s elevated play was the difference.

Oliver Ekman Larsson got Sweden on the board late in the first with his third goal of the tournament. The scoring opportunity started as William Wallen moved the puck up the sideboards to the top of the left circle where he picked up Ekman Larsson activating off the opposite point. Wallen wired a pass across the zone hitting Ekman Larsson in stride as he one-timed it over Bobkov glove side high.

“I started a little cold and I was fighting the puck,” Bobkov said. “That’s why the first goal got in.”

Working with the man-advantage, Russia would even things up early in the second period. Dmitri Orlov fired the puck in from the high slot, which trickled off the glove of Swedish goalie Robin Lehner to make it 1-1.

“They made a shot and our goalie had his glove on it but it got in,” Swedish Head Coach Stephan Lundh said. “The Russians somehow got some fuel from that to get going.”

With under a minute left in the second stanza, Russia would go up 2-1 on a Kirill Kabanov goal. Kabanov accelerated into the offensive zone with speed at the top of the right circle. He cut in on Lehner and started to drag the puck. When the Swedish netminder started to lean, the gritty Russian forward roofed the puck glove side high for the score.

Sweden had a handful of good scoring chances during the second frame, but Russian goalie Bobkov remained solid at every turn.

“As we started to score goals, I became a little more comfortable,” Bobkov said. “ I just tried to do my best, but I’m really proud of my team and I thank them for helping me out.”

With confidence brewing all-around, Russia turned it up.

Sweden would get an opportunity to tie things up when they went on the power play minutes into the final frame. Working in the Russian zone, Wallen was trying to settle the puck just inside the blueline when Evgeni Kuznetsov applied pressure and took over possession.

As the Russian forward entered the Swedish zone, he had Alexander Burmistrov closing in on the opposite wing. As Lehner addressed Kuznetsov, he slid the puck back to Burmistrov, who buried it to put Russia up 3-1.

“When I was little my dad always told me when you go two-on-one to shoot, but if your partner has a better chance to score, pass it,” Kuznetsov explained.

At 11:50 in third, Kuznetsov was on the receiving end of a Fredrik Styrman slash as he was trying to add to Russia’s lead. Styrman’s infraction let to a penalty shot.

Kuznetsov came in off the right wing beating Lehner stick side to push Russia to a commanding 4-1 lead.

“I’ve been practicing my penalty shot or a while now so I was confident I could make that shot,” Kuznetsov said.

Lundh pulled Lehner at 16:21 in the third but the Swedes couldn’t mount the comeback as Bobkov turned away all 19 shots he faced in the final period.

“We had a lot of really good chances to win this game,” Lundh said. “Their goalie just played really well.”

USA downs Czech Republic 6-2

Shore leads the attack as eight players register points

From the initial face-off, Team USA came out tonight and set the tone in their quarterfinal contest against the Czech Republic. The Americans dominated every aspect of the game as there was little the Czechs could do to counter. After going up 2-1 early on, USA opened up the game in the second period scoring four consecutive goals to put the game out of reach en route to a dominating 6-2 win.

“I thought for the most part we good support all over the ice,” Team USA Head Coach Ron Rolston said. “We put a lot of pressure on their defense to get it deep and gain possession back in their zone. We had the puck a lot tonight and I thought that all of our lines rolled. We certainly got some confidence in the game.”

Team USA struck first as Drew Shore converted a John Henrion pass to go up 1-0. Shore setup the chance by getting in behind Czech defender David Musil. Henrion put the puck on his stick as he would beat goalie Filip Novotny five hole.

“I tried to drive in on the net and their strong-side defenseman took [Henrion],” Shore said. “Henrion threw me a phenomenal pass that hit me right in the slot. Their other defender came in and slashed me. I started to fall but I was able to chip it in five hole.”

Shore increased USA’s lead, taking matters into his own hands a second time on a two-on-one with Matt Nieto. Shore moved in on Novotny’s left while Nieto was on the right. Shore looked the Czech goalie off, then roofed the puck for the 2-0 lead.

“Nieto did a good job driving the net and that pushed the other defenseman away from me,” he added. “Once I looked him off, I had a lot of net and I was lucky to hit it.”

After generating little chances at even strength, the Czech Republic would use the man-advantage to cut the lead in half at 14:48. Antonin Honejsek feasted on a rebound given up by goalie Jack Campbell to make it 2-1.

The Americans opened the second period right back on the attack. After getting the puck at the left point, defenseman Philip Samuelsson immediately put a shot on net as Nieto provided redirected his shot. By the time Novotny tried to react, the puck bounced between his legs and into the goal for the 3-1 lead.

The host nation continued their assault in the second frame as Kenny Ryan scored another even-strength goal and Jerry D’Amigo and Jeremy Morin added power-play goals to boost Team USA’s lead to 6-1.

“We wanted to get everyone involved tonight,” Rolston said. “We had quite a few power plays, but we used some other guys there and on the kill. We wanted give everyone an opportunity tonight to get a lot of ice time and touches on the puck.”

The Czech Republic would get back onto the board with the lone goal in the third when Ondrej Palat knocked in a rebound off a Musil shot to make it 6-2.

With the win, Team USA is set to square off against Team Canada Friday night.