Reliving a glorious moment

Where were you when BLR beat RUS in 2000?

20.05.2014
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Minsk Arena Minsk  Belarus

Belarusian fans cheer on their team. Photo: Andre Ringuette / HHOF-IIHF Images

Let’s face it: there’s nothing sweeter than beating your big brother in sports. Retelling the tale afterwards comes a close second.
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Russia and Belarus have long enjoyed that kind of fraternal relationship. They’re going head-to-head again at Minsk Arena in the Group B finale tonight. Will the host nation of 10 million – already bound for the quarter-finals – get to celebrate an upset victory over its juggernaut rival?
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The odds are against it. In hockey, the Russians have enjoyed the upper hand almost all the time since the dissolution of the Soviet Union.
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The two countries became independent within the IIHF on May 6, 1992. Since then, Belarus has lost all three Olympic games it’s played against Russia, and has only one win to go with a tie and five losses in World Championship play.
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But boy, was that one historic win a doozy.
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It was a 1-0 shutout at the 2000 IIHF World Championship in St. Petersburg. The host Russians – stumbling toward an all-time worst 11th-place finish despite icing an all-star squad – had already fallen 3-0 to the United States, 3-2 to Switzerland and 3-2 to Latvia.
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This was also the first year in which the IIHF embraced the internet as a tool to bring full-scale coverage of the World Championship to hockey fans around the globe.
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Let’s relive one of the glorious moments in Belarusian hockey history. Here’s how Lucas Aykroyd reported the victory for the official web site on May 7, 2000.
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<b>Passive Russians fall 1-0 to Belarus</b>
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The weirdness continues.
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Belarus, which was outscored 8-0 in its previous two games, turned the tables by blanking Russia 1-0 with a goal by Vladimir Tsyplakov at the Ice Palace Sunday evening.
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The result dropped Russia, already out of the medal hunt, to the bottom of the Group E standings at 0-4, while Belarus moved into fifth place at 1-3.
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Russia's effort looked marginally better than against Switzerland and Latvia, but the forwards displayed no finish and the defense took a passive approach.
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It was Russia's fourth consecutive loss.
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In a sign of how badly this Russian team has fallen, winger Valeri Kamensky played on the fourth line with Alexei Kudashov and Andrei Kovalenko. Kamensky started the tournament on the first line with Alexei Zhamnov and Pavel Bure.
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Belarus goaltender Andrei Mezin achieved his first shutout of this tournament.
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Belarus came out skating hard, as if they sensed their opportunity to get in their licks on Russia as other opponents had.
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At 3:15 of the first period, Igor Matushkin of Belarus hauled down Pavel Bure as the Russian Rocket tried to cut into the clear. Russia failed to score on the ensuing power play despite generating shots.
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At the 8-minute mark, Dmitry Starostenko's shot from right wing almost slipped past Russian netminder Egor Podomatski, but the goalie turned and grabbed the puck before it could slip in.
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After Alexei Yashin took a tripping minor, Vladimir Tsyplakov opened the scoring for Belarus on the power play at 12:00 with a shot from the right faceoff circle that flew through Podomatski's five-hole.
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"I used to play for Russia, and this is one of the reasons this win was special for me today," Tsyplakov commented later. "The Bure line looked tired after the long NHL season."
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Russia's power play at the start of the second period was a mirror image of what happened at the start of the game: plenty of opportunities but no scoring.
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Starostenko had a clear break on Podomatski six and a half minutes into the second, but Podomatski slid to his right and blocked the Belarus forward's attempt.
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A wraparound try by Alexei Zhamnov in the final minute of the second frame whizzed through Mezin's crease harmlessly.
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Iin the third period, the Russians created flurries of activity in the Belarus end, but never exerted enough pressure to score.
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Final shots were 31-18 in favor of Belarus.
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The Player of the Game for Belarus was Mezin, while Igor Kravchuk took the honors for Russia.
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"Mezin has played better and better for us every game," said Tsyplakov.
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Russia plays its final game of the tournament against Sweden May 9. Belarus faces Switzerland that day.
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LUCAS AYKROYD

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