In what was perhaps a tighter contest than expected, Team Russia moved on to the semi-finals at the 2016 IIHF World Junior Championship after defeating Denmark in overtime, 4-3, in their quarterfinal match at Hartwall Arena in Helsinki, Finland. The win means that the Russians will face a team they bounced from last year’s WJC, the USA.
The hero for Russia in this game was team captain Vladislav Kamenev (NSH), who tied the game with less than a minute to go, then netted the overtime winner to send the Danes packing. Yegor Korshkov and Artur Lauta scored the other Russian goals, with Lauta and Ivan Provorov (PHI) each having two-point games along with Kamenev.
Goaltender Alexander Georgiev stopped 18 of 21 shots that he faced to give him four wins so far at this WJC.
Kamenev spoke with Hockey’s Future leading up to the quarterfinal game against Denmark, with the text of that conversation being provided below.
Hockey’s Future: Team Russia had four wins in four games played in the preliminary round. Still, most all of the games were tight. Are all things going according to plan?
Vladislav Kamenev: You’re always glad to say you’ve won every game you’ve played, at any tournament. Naturally, we’ve done more good than wrong. The players are enjoying the tournament. The main thing is that the players are working hard, very hard, and always battling. That’s a good basis. Now we have to take that attitude into the playoffs, no matter what challenges we face.
HF: How have you enjoyed Finland and the atmosphere of this tournament?
VK: The atmosphere has been tremendous, at least here at this rink. We have fans here supporting us and Finland is the hometown team with the proper support. As for Helsinki, I’ve been in the hotel and the rink. It’s back and forth every day. I can’t say anything about the town itself.
HF: Looking at the playoffs, you’ll now face Team Denmark. I believe you are familiar with them. What are your thoughts on that opponent?
VK: We played a test game against them here in Finland right before the tournament. We won 5-0, but the team was quite good. Denmark is a hardworking club. They battle. They will make life hard on us. They’ll be even better in the playoffs and we have to expect a tight game.
HF: What challenges have you faced coming over from the AHL and playing with boys again at the WJC?
VK: Well, although I grew up on bigger rinks, I have gotten acclimated with the smaller, tighter game in North America. But there really haven’t been any problems or challenges fitting in or playing this game here. Actually, there’s just more time to look around, get your bearings, and make plays. There’s more space and you can breathe more. This makes it possible to break out more coordinated and create more dangerous opportunities.
HF: Russia has a lot of skilled players. What’s your chemistry like with your linemates?
VK: My line started off well, but then things didn’t go as planned and now we’ve been trying other combinations. We have some practices and will try and find the type of combinations that will allow us to score more goals, because there’s definitely talent here and we know we can all produce more.
HF: How do you enjoy playing in the AHL?
VK: It’s been an adjustment, but things are going better and better. I have a great team and great teammates. Everyone is very helpful, and whenever I have questions or need something, someone is there to help me out. The transition is ongoing, but I’m making progress. The hockey itself is new for me and poses different challenges. It’s different from the KHL and international game, but I need to learn and master it in order to move forward.
VK: Obviously it’s my goal to play for Nashville and I want to do this as soon as possible. I feel I’m not far off and I wanted to take the most direct route into the team. I’m now hoping that this WJC tournament will boost me towards an NHL job.
Game highlights from the Russia-Denmark contest can be viewed below.
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