REGINA – Russia pulled away from Austria with four first-period goals and went on to a 6-2 win in its Boxing Day opener in Group B action.
Russia – Austria 6-2 (4-1, 1-1, 1-0)
Kirill Petrov paced the Russian attack with a goal and two assists. Yevgeni Kuznetsov had two goals, and Maxim Chudinov and Dmitri Orlov also had two points apiece.
The Russians were much quicker and showed more skills, but the Austrians fought hard to avoid getting blown out. Still, Maxim Trunev opened the scoring for the Russians less than two minutes in.
Although the flow of the game was in Russia's favour, the Russians didn’t have many scoring chances. KHL sniper Nikita Filatov hit the post at 4:07 and missed the goal with another shot 30 seconds later.
At 11:38, the Austrians and the crowd at Brandt Centre celebrated the equalizer when Konstantin Komarek scored on the first power play for his team.
However, the Russians reacted with three goals before the first intermission. Maxim Chudinov and Vladimir Tarasenko scored on power plays, while Yevgeni Kuznetsov beat Austria goalkeeper Lorenz Hirn with a wrist shot into the top-right corner.
Russia maintained its three-goal lead after the second period. Kuznetsov scored his second goal of the night on a 3-on-2 rush at 6:20 of the middle frame, but Nikolaus Hartl made it 5-2 goal less than four minutes later on a breakaway, thanks to a great pass from Patrick Meier.
Hope lived on for the valiant Austrians when the Russians failed to capitalize on two two-man advantages in the third period and got into penalty trouble themselves. But the power plays didn’t work out as hoped for the Austrians, as Kirill Petrov made it 6-2 while shorthanded with eight minutes left.
“Unfortunately we were not ready at the beginning. We could keep up with the Russians later on with 5-on-5 players, but we had too many penalties,” said Austrian forward Komarek. “If we can correct that, I think we can achieve our goal – to remain in the top division.”
“It was a good game. We didn’t capitalize so much on our chances, but we won, that’s the most important thing,” Russia’s captain Nikita Filatov said after the game. “We have to improve our game a lot because we didn’t show anything special, especially in the power play.”
Austria faces Sweden on Sunday, while Russia's next game is Monday versus Finland.
Czech Republic – Sweden 1-10 (0-4, 1-2, 0-4)
REGINA – A four-goal first-period outburst lifted Sweden to a 10-1 thrashing of the Czech Republic in the opening game of the 2010 IIHF World U20 Championship.
The Group B tilt, played in front of 5,191 fans at the Brandt Centre, had considerably less intrigue than a thriller by Stieg Larsson or Henning Mankell, but it unmistakably validated Sweden as a championship contender. And talk about a balanced attack: 14 different Swedish players recorded at least one point.
Magnus Pääjärvi-Svensson led the way with a goal and four assists, while Andre Petersson, Tim Erixon, and Anton Rodin added a goal and two assists apiece. Anton Lander tallied twice, and Mattias Tedenby, Carl Klingberg, Jacob Silfverberg, and Adam Larsson also scored for Sweden.
"We're really thrilled to win 10-1, obviously," said Pääjärvi-Svensson. "We played some good hockey in the first and third. Our second wasn't that good, but we had good puck control."
Jan Kana replied for the Czech Republic, which dressed just 17 skaters and was clearly outmatched.
Sweden's Jacob Markström, who earned Best Goalie honours at last year's tournament in Ottawa, faced 21 shots in the win. His teammates fired 46 shots at hapless Czech starter Jakub Sedlacek and his eventual replacement, Pavel Francouz.
The best Czech chance in the early going went to Tomas Knotek, who stole the puck in the neutral zone for a breakaway but fired wide. Later, Jan Kana dinged one off the post. But close wasn't going to cut it against the powerful Tre Kronor squad, seeking gold this year after settling for silver in 2008 and 2009.
At 7:42, Petersson opened the scoring for the Swedes, cutting down the left side past the Czech defence before tucking a forehand past Sedlacek.
The Swedes jumped into a 2-0 lead at 15:20, as Oliver Ekman-Larsson pinched in smartly to feed Rodin at the bottom of the right faceoff circle. Just over two minutes later, they made it 3-0 when Tedenby jammed the puck in during a goal-mouth scramble.
Sweden went up by four goals in the final minute of the first when Anton Lander converted a sweet cross-ice pass from Petersson, falling to his knees as he did so. That was the end of Sedlacek, as Czech coach Jaromir Sindel yanked him in favour of Francouz.
"It was very difficult to play after the first period," said Sindel. "Sweden led 4-0 because it’s a very strong team with high-quality players. We had an unlucky beginning, and Sweden was so much better on the offence. I'm sad about the score because we expected a better game from our side."
Tre Kronor continued to pour it on in the second period. At 2:34, Pääjärvi-Svensson hammered a power-play one-timer through Francouz's legs.
The Czechs finally got on the board at 5:01 with some good puck movement on the man advantage, Kana doing the damage. But the Swedes replied 21 seconds later, as Klingberg scored with a quick shot off a faceoff in the Czech end. As the period wore on, Sweden's superior puck possession and physical game took a toll on its opponents, who couldn't sustain the pace.
"I think we played a decent game, but we can do a lot better," said Erixon. "We made a few defensive mistakes. And I like the smaller rink, but it takes some getting used to."
Erixon increased the gap to 7-1 with a power-play drive 51 seconds into the third, and Lander made it 8-1 at the three-minute mark. Silfverberg capitalized on a Rodin set-up at 11:21. Adam Larsson, Sweden's 17-year-old blueline phenom, scored his first-ever World Junior goal on the power play to complete the slaughter.
"The whole team can be happy with the victory,"said Petersson. "We played our game. It wasn’t that easy from the start, but after the second period we were clearly the better team on the ice. I’m pretty happy with my game too."
This was Sweden's fifth straight victory over the Czechs at this level. The last time the Czech Republic beat Sweden in World Junior hockey was a 3-1 decision on December 31, 2003 in Halifax. The Czechs haven't medaled since 2005's bronze.
“We've got a new game tomorrow against Finland, and we need a win,” Kana said resignedly. “We didn't play well today. We need to take more shots. The coach told us to forget about this one and move on.”
Notes: The starting roster for the Swedes was Jacob Markstrom, Tim Erixon-David Rundblad, Magnus Pääjärvi-Svensson-Marcus Johansson-Andre Petterson. For the Czechs it was Jakub Sedlacek, Vladimir Roth-Michal Jordan, Robert Kousal-Andrej Nestrasil-Stepan Novotny...A video-screen tribute spotlighted Saskatchewan native Clark Gillies, who won four Stanley Cups with the New York Islanders in the 1980's en route to the Hockey Hall of Fame...The two Swedes with double-barreled names, Pääjärvi-Svensson and Ekman-Larsson, are simply identified as "Paajarvi" and "Ekman" on their jerseys.