Russia 6 Canada 5
There were eleven goals scored, eighty shots, seventeen penalties, all four goalies played, both teams scored four consecutive goals and the game was only a post away from overtime. Incredibly the Russians 6-1 lead eight minutes into the third period almost didn’t hold up as the Canadians scored four straight goals in just under five minutes. The Canadians continued to press and had a number of chances right up to the last few seconds of the period.
Why The Russians Won?
Not sure why but the Russians were so much more ready to play then Canada and they seemed to look a lot more comfortable in the opening period. The Canadians showed brief flashes of intensity but ultimately looked nervous, hesitant and almost lost. The Russians played with confidence from the beginning and used the momentum of last nights overtime win to build an early lead. While the first three goals for the Russians came off deflections, Canadian goalie Scott Wedgewood did not look confident. Andrei Vasilevski on the other hand did. There is no question that there were some questionable calls both ways by the officials but the bottom line is Canada was undisciplined. Boone Jenner was kicked out of the game on a really poor decision and Jonathan Huberdeau sat in the box for over twelve minutes for slamming his stick against the boards.
How good was captain Yevgeni ”the Kuze” Kuznetsov? He scored three goals and added an assist but more than that he was all over the ice, controlled the game at times and led his team not just with his play but with his confidence and passion for the game. Nail Yakupov was easily the second best Russian player as he finally lived up to all the hype. He had four assists and for the first time in the tournament really showed his skating ability and his offensive potential.
There is no question that a few of the Russian players showed poor sportsmanship in their actions over the past couple of games, especially post game. The gestures to the fans as well as Kuznetsov engaging with a fan in the corner minutes after beating Canada was definitely not the most classy behavior. Finally there was the diving and embellishing of calls by the Russians that became borderline embarrassing not just for the Russians but for the game of hockey. There is no room for diving, the grabbing of the face and the lying on the ice in the game of hockey but the sad thing is that in international hockey that type of behavior works to generate power plays. It seems the officials are under so much pressure that they are easily convinced once they see certain reactions by players and feel they must make calls. The unfortunate thing is that there are certain nations, especially Canada that do not succumb to this behavior on the ice. In fairness to the referees they are put into a very difficult position to make calls quickly and it is sad that certain players make the referees and the game look so bad. I will say one thing about the Russians and that is they are 17, 18 and 19-year-old teenagers playing a long way from home and have been constantly booed and cheered against for the past two weeks. Not that their actions are warranted but I think it is somewhat understandable why they reacted the way they did. It is easy to say that a Canadian hockey player would never act the way some of the Russians did but given the same situation it is hard to say a Canadian player might not do something similar.
The Canadians had a terrible start, showed poor discipline and really didn’t begin to play like they could until the second period. However, they did not give up and were incredibly only a goal post away from maybe one of the most incredible comebacks not just in Junior hockey but any international game. I thought that forward Brendan Gallagher was the best player for Canada in that third period and really spirited the Canadian comeback. He had a goal and two assists, drew penalties and was so determined that he did not allow the puck to be taken from him. With over five minutes remaining and Russia hanging to a one goal lead there were a number of good chances especially Mark Stone who not only hit the post but had other chances to tie the game. The one player that seemed to not be able to miss earlier in the tournament could not find the back of the net when the Canadians so desperately needed it.
There were a number of plays and calls that had a big influence on the eventual end result.
- The Canadians were given a chance to get right back in the game before the end of the first period when they were given a five on three advantage for over a minute. The Canadians could not capitalize and eventually took a penalty to take away the power play.
- The Canadians came to play in the second period but a costly change with the score 3-1 put the wrong person on a breakaway and Kuznetsov buried it. On the play the Russian forward following up crashed into Wedgewood and he was eventually replaced by Mark Visetin.
- With just over four minutes to play in the second period, Jenner was hit without the puck and the Russian defence-man Ildar Isangulov was called for interference. While heading back to his bench, Kuznetsov approached Jenner and he subsequently speared Kuznetsov. The Canadian power play was nullified and Jenner was given a five-minute major and a game misconduct. The only problem I had with the play is Kuznetsov approaching an injured player. Why was he allowed to skate up to Jenner? The linesmen should have been there ensuring all Russian players were on the bench and away from Jenner.
- After killing a penalty early in the third period the Russians found themselves on a three on one break and buried their sixth goal of the game. On the play Nathan Bealieu completely gave up on the play after being called for a delayed penalty. If he had continued to back check he would have been able to break up the cross crease pass.
- Finally, with just over five minutes remaining in the game the Canadians cut the lead to one. The Russian coach decided to pull Vasilevski for backup goaltender Andrei Markarov. Amazingly, Markarov came in and looked very good making a couple of big saves to hold the lead. To be fair it was hard to fault Vasilevski as there were a couple of unlucky bounces and screened shots that he had no chance on.
- It will be the first time since 2001 that the Canadians will not be involved in a gold medal game.
- Brett Connolly has now scored in every game for Canada at this tournament, he opening the scoring in the second period after replacing goaltender Wedgewood on a delayed penalty call.
- What an incredible atmosphere in the Saddledome last night! I have been to many Flames games over the past 23 years and have to say that the stretch during the third period may have been the loudest I have ever witnessed a crowd. It was as though the crowd was convinced the Canadians were going to complete the comeback and almost willed them to that sixth goal. It is unfortunate that Calgarians will be unable to witness a gold medal final with Canada in it but I am sure they will show their support in the bronze medal game on Thursday afternoon.
- The gold medal game will be a rematch of the final round robin game of Group A when Sweden came back from a three goal deficit to win in overtime. Should be an excellent final with two very good hockey teams.
- One Canadian fan went home happy last night as the 50/50 take home prize was over $128,000.