Each U18 tournament brings an upset or two, and the 2015 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 World Championship has been no different. Probably the biggest upset took place in a quarter-final game today, with host country Switzerland eliminating Russia in a shocking 5-0 win. The Swiss had not beaten the Russians at this tournament since 1999, which was the first year for the U18.
The Russians looked like a medal contender after rolling through the preliminary round undefeated. But the playoff round is a different animal, with one loss resulting in either the end of a country’s tournament, or a silver or bronze medal. Despite outscoring the opposition 20-7 in the preliminary round, Russia was not able to avoid elimination.
The top offensive player for Team Russia at this U18 was Denis Guryanov. The Lada Togliatti forward is currently tied for the goal-scoring lead at this tournament with Finland’s Patrik Laine at six goals apiece, with Guryanov adding an assist in five games. Guryanov, a prospect for the 2015 NHL Draft, is ranked seventh in NHL Central Scouting’s final draft rankings after holding that same position in the midterm list.
Hockey’s Future spoke with Guryanov following the preliminary round for this Q&A session.
Hockey’s Future (HF): You had the hat trick in the 7-4 victory over Sweden. A fun game to play for you?
Denis Guryanov (DG): My three goals were a matter of luck. The credit goes to my linemates, who I’d like to thank.
HF: Russia won all four preliminary games. How is the team feeling about things right now?
DG: We’re proud of the four victories. We found ourselves behind against the USA and Sweden, so our team really showed its character in coming back against two of the best hockey countries in the world. We’ve gotten the job done to this point.
HF: You face hometown Switzerland in the first round of the playoffs. What do you think about that match-up?
DG: To be honest, it doesn’t matter who we play against. We have to come out and do our job. We have to give 100%.
HF: Are you personally happy with your own play at this tournament?
DG: I’m doing well. You can always do more, but I feel good with my play thus far.
HF: What do you think you improved upon this past winter?
DG: Tough to say. I played a lot and I got to suit up for eight KHL games. I did not receive much ice time there, but I was able to skate and compete with the bigger, older, more experienced players. This gave me lots of confidence heading into this tournament.
HF: Do you know where you’ll be playing next season?
DG: No comment. The question is not suitable right now.
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