The outcome is no doubt not what they hoped for, as Russia fell to host Sweden, 3-2, in their final game of the preliminary round at the 2014 World Junior Championship. Russia lives to fight another day, of course, but the road to the gold medal game just became slightly more difficult with the loss on New Year's Eve.
Each year, Russia is usually among the contenders for the U20 World Junior Championship gold medal, with this year being no different as head coach Mikhail Varnakov will have at his disposal a very good team. Last month's Subway Super Series showed that Russia would ice a very competitive team as, with 14 players busy in the KHL, Team Russia still skated on a par with the CHL all-star teams that they faced.
After having eight players selected during the 2013 NHL Draft, a decrease from 11 during the 2012 selections (three of them in the first round: Nail Yakupov, Mikhail Grigorenko, and Andrei Vasilevsky), Russia might see a rebound in the number of recruited players as the class of ’95- and ’96-born players is very solid and most likely better than the ’94 group.
Buffalo, NY is just over 230 kilometres away from London, ON — but the distance between the OHL and the NHL is far greater. But when the Buffalo Sabres decided to return 6’5 blueliner Nikita Zadorov to the junior league’s Knights, London’s dreams of a Memorial Cup win just got a whole lot closer to reality.