Russia romps to semis
by Andrew Podnieks|03 JAN 2019
Russia's Grigori Denisenko (#28) celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal against Slovakia.
photo: Matt Zambonin / HHOF-IIHF Images
Russia scored four goals in the first eleven minutes, chased starting goalie Samuel Hlavaj from the crease, and breezed to an 8-3 win over Slovakia in the last of the quarter-finals games today.

Russia will now face the United States for a spot in the gold-medal game, and Slovakia goes home with an 8th-place finish.

The scoring spree started at 5:36 when Dmitri Samorukov’s point shot was stopped by Hlavaj. The rebound came right to Grigori Denisenko, and he snapped the loose puck into the open goal.

"We didn't start well," admitted Slovak captain Martin Fehervary. "We made too many mistakes in our zone, and it's tough when that happens against a really skilled team like Russia."

Indeed, just 31 seconds later, the Russians made it 2-0. Stepan Starkov made a nice pass out front to Nikolai Kovalenko, and he converted from the top of the crease, the puck just trickling over the goal line. 

"We got off to a good start," said defenceman Dmitri Samorukov. "We wanted to score a couple of quick goals in the first ten minutes, and that's what we did. We're happy with our game. We saw how Sweden lost in the first game, so we knew we had to focus on playing well. Every team can win."
Russia vs. Slovakia QF - 2019 IIHF World Junior Championship
RUS SVK 03 JAN 2019
The Russians struck again at 7:49 when Alexander Alexeyev eluded his man in the corner, walked out in front, and beat Hlavaj with a hard wrist shot.

With few options to stem the tide, Slovak coach Ernest Bokros pulled Hlavaj in favour of Juraj Sklenar, and he did an admirable job for a while. The combination of Denisenko and captain Klim Kostin, though, rose to the fore in the second period. They combined on three goals, but only two counted as one was ruled goalie interference. 

The first legit goal was a nice pass from Denisenko to Kostin at 11:40, and seven minutes later they clicked on a power play. In each case, Kostin had a close-in chance that Sklenar couldn't be faulted on.

Kirill Slepets added goal another in the final minute of the second to bring the count to 7-0 after 40 minutes.

Much to the delight of the crowd, the Slovaks finally connected, at 3:35 of the third, on a four-on-four. Fehervary converted a nice pass from Michal Ivan to make it 7-1. Ilya Morozov got that back, though, at 12:03.

Slovakia's Milos Roman scored with a slapshot from the top of the circle that beat Danil Tarasov at 18:58. Russia challenged the call, thinking it was offside, and they were wrong. On the ensuing power play, Ivan blew another shot past Tarasov with only 9.0 seconds remaining.

"Sure, we got three goals in the third period, but we should have played like that from the beginning," Fehervary said. "We should have a better result [than 8th]. We had a bad loss in the first game against USA. It was 2-1 in a couple of games. We try to get better every time, every player, but that's how it is."

"We feel like a family right now," Samorukov said. "We're trying to play better every game, so now we're going to forget about this game and get ready for the U.S."
Russia vs. Slovakia (2019 IIHF WJC)