Russia – Canada 4 – 3 (2 - 1, 2 - 1, 0 - 1) Game Sheet
INNSBRUCK – In an opening day that saw three shutouts in the men’s and women’s tournaments, Canada and Russia provided the fireworks in the final game of Day One of the 2012 Youth Olympic Games in Innsbruck. Daniil Vovchenko had the game-winning goal as Russia stopped a late Canadian surge to win 4-3.
With Russia holding the shots advantage and the 4-2 lead going into the third period, Canada’s Reid Gardiner got the puck on the side of the Russian net and fired a precision shot that just made it over the shoulder of goaltender Sergey Korobov. The goal sparked the Canadians, who outshot the Russians in the final frame but could not get the equalizing goal.
“We were with them the whole way, especially in the third period,” said Canadian forward Eric Cornel. “It’s a tough game to lose but we look forward to coming back against the Americans.”
Both teams got into the game quickly, getting a few early chances and laying on hits at both ends. Alexander Protapovich opened the scoring, streaking down the boards and cutting across the Canadian net before shooting the puck under Bouchard’s glove.
Canada replied quickly with a shot from Ryan Pilon that went straight to the top corner of Korobov’s net, but then allowed Russian defenceman Egor Tsvetkov to skate down the middle of the Canadian zone untouched and fire a slapshot home for the 2-1 lead.
Russia then pounced on Canadian giveaways in the neutral zone in the second period. With Canada on the powerplay, Maxim Lazarev hung for a second at the Canadian blue line, then took off after his teammates got the puck up to him following a Canadian turnover. On the ensuing two-on-one, Lazarev braked hard and made a turnaround pass to Ivan Nikolishin, who sent it right back to Lazarev. Canadian goaltender Keven Bouchard nearly got back across to make a spectacular save, but the puck hit his skate and deflected into the net.
Josh Carrick responded with a shot on net from the blue line that bounced off Korobov and onto the stick of Adam Brooks, who buried the rebound home to bring his team back within a goal. But after two great saves at both ends from Bouchard and Korobov, who each stoned breakaway chances, Vovchenko got the puck on another Canadian giveaway at centre ice and put it between Bouchard’s legs to put his team back up by two.
With the victory Russia will go up against Finland, also winners in their opening game. Canada will have another difficult matchup on Sunday, taking on the Americans.
Austria - Finland 0 - 3 (0 - 0, 0 - 0, 0 - 3) Game Sheet
INNSBRUCK – Team Finland overcame a tough Austrian defence and its own miscues to win 3-0. The hometown Austrians allowed three unanswered goals in the final period in their opening match of the 2012 Youth Olympic Games in Innsbruck.
Despite outshooting Austria by a wide margin, the Finns could not convert their chances until the third period. Kasperi Kapanen, Finnish forward and son of former NHLer and KalPa Kuopio player Sami Kapanen, scored 22 seconds into the frame to break the deadlock. Kapanen’s goal was quickly followed by a marker from Waltteri Hopponen, and Joel Kirivanta added an empty netter to seal the 3-0 win.
Though performing admirably on defence, the Austrian forwards could not match their efforts at the other end of the rink, mustering only three shots on net through two periods. Their best opportunity came with less than twenty seconds left in the second period, when forward Sandro Seifried had a breakaway but fired wide on the backhand.
“The team chemistry is amazing, we’ve been together for three weeks and we know that these Youth Olympics are the chance of a lifetime,” said Finland captain Manu Honkanen.
While Austria was outshot badly by Finland in the opening period, the Finns had few genuine scoring opportunities, largely due to Austria’s defenders keeping the Finns up against the boards with tight checking. Finland’s only real opportunity came during a scrum that put Austrian goaltender Thomas Stroj out of position. The puck came to Kirivanta, who missed on a wide open net.
“We had a lot of scoring chances but the puck just wouldn’t go in, but we’ll need to be better when we play Russia next," said Honkanen.
Finland now has a key game coming up against Russia on Sunday. Austria will face Team USA tomorrow.