TYCHY, Poland – Russia defended its title at the European Youth Olympic Festival in Poland after a 5-3 victory against Switzerland in the gold-medal game.
Six U17 national teams participated in the biannual event and it was again Russia that won gold. But the way to the gold medal was bumpier than in past years.
In Group A, Russia finished in second place after a 17-1 win over host Poland and a 4-2 defeat against Slovakia. Group B was won by Finland ahead of Switzerland and Belarus.
However, the second-place teams played for gold. Russia beat Finland 5-4 in overtime in the semi-finals, while Switzerland edged Slovakia, 2-1.
Russia led 3-0 midway through the gold medal game but the Swiss tied things up with ten minutes left. With 2:01 left in regulation, Vladislav Namestnikov put in the game-winner at 57:59 and just over a minute later he followed up with the 5-3 goal to seal the win.
“The tournament was at a really high level with four dominating teams,” Russia head coach Vladimir Kryuchkov said. “We’re really happy about the medal and I think that my boys deserved it.”
Hockey has been played at the European Youth Olympic Festival since 1997 and Russia has won gold every year, except 2003 when the Czechs took the title. It is the fourth silver for the Swiss, which also took second place in 2001, 2003 and 2005.
Final ranking: 1. Russia, 2. Switzerland, 3. Finland, 4. Slovakia, 5. Belarus, 6. Poland.
Best goalkeeper: Lukas Meili (SUI)
Best defenceman: Markus Vastila (FIN)
Best forward: Nino Niederreiter (SUI)
MVP: Evgeni Kuznetsov (RUS)