Russia – Germany 2 - 4 (1-2, 1-1, 0-1)
ZNOJMO – Germany continued its rise in the U18 hockey world with a standout performance against Russia in the preliminary round. Forward Marcel Kurth had two goals and goaltender Marvin Cupper made 40 saves for his team as the Germans closed out the Russians 4-2, Germany’s first ever win over Russia in the U18 category.
The two teams played an exciting game in the preliminary round at last year’s U18 World championship, when the host Germans came back twice, once from a three-goal deficit and again with a goal in the third period to send the game into overtime, taking the Russians all the way to the shootout where they lost 5-4.
This time around, the Germans had the one-goal advantage going into the third period, and they did not give it up. The team played the Russians tenaciously for the last 20 minutes and got the break they needed when Alexei Fillipov was called for high-sticking. On the ensuing power play, the German forwards streaked to the net and forced Russian goaltender Andrei Vasilevski into giving up a rebound to Tim Bender for the two-goal lead.
“It was a good win for the guys, they did well and they should enjoy it for now, but it doesn’t mean anything other than a win for us and it’s not our final goal,” said head coach Jim Setters.
Valeri Nichushkin scored the game’s first goal on a nice passing play from Bogdan Yakimov and Anton Slepyshev. The Russians kept the pressure on Marvin Cupper through the majority of the first period, but the German goalie did not let another in. Cupper’s effort eventually moved to momentum over to the Germans’ side, and at 2:15 to go in the period Frederik Tiffels scored for Germany to tie the game.
Then with only twelve seconds to go and with Russia’s Danil Zharkov in the box for tripping, German forward Marcel Kurth took the puck to the high slot and beat goaltender Andrei Vasilevsky with a shot to give the Germans a 2-1 lead going into the second period.
The two late goals in the first period had the Germans skating hard in the second, and they managed to capitalize again on a power play 8:31 into the frame when Kurth scored his second, this time on a breakaway to mark what would be the game-winning goal. Bogdan Yakimov closed the lead to 3-2 and gave his team a chance to avoid the upset, but the Russians could not produce another.
“After their second goal, things broke down a bit and we were committing hara-kiri on ourselves, chasing the Russians around and giving up odd-man rushes,” said Setters. “But after five minutes the guys calmed down and went back to playing their game.”
Germany will face Latvia next, who won its first game against Switzerland. Russia takes on the Swiss Monday evening in Znojmo. Click here for photos, scores, and stats.