ROC outlasts plucky Danes
by Derek O'Brien|26 MAY 2021
photo: Chris Tanouye / HHOF-IIHF Images

Ivan Morozov led the ROC offence with a goal and an assist against a determined Danish side on Wednesday. The ROC team led 1-0 after two and a half periods and eventually won 3-0, thanks to Alexander Samonov’s 18-save shutout. Sebastian Dahm stopped 28 of 31 Russian shots.

“At the moment we regard him as our number one,” ROC head coach Sergei Bragin said about Samonov. ‘He did well today, he tidied everything up. We hope he’ll carry on like that.”

“It was pretty good two periods from our side what we can bring forward is our game without the puck,” said Danish captain Jesper Jensen Aabo. “We had pretty good patience today but we need to create more scoring chances. That’s one of the most lacking things today.”

Coming off a loss to Slovakia, the Russians are surely happy to be back in the win column, even if it wasn’t a dominant effort. Meanwhile, the Danes opened the tournament with an impressive win over Sweden but followed it up with a four-shot effort against Switzerland and an overtime win over Great Britain.

Each team had an early power play and generated chances. The Danes nearly struck two minutes in when Markus Lauridsen’s low point shot was deflected up by Frederik Storm into the chest of Samonov.

The ROC team came even closer on their advantage a few minutes later as they moved the puck side to side very well but Dahm was ready, most notably when he robbed Maxim Shalumov with the glove when the Russian winger got a juicy rebound at the side of the net.

ROC vs Denmark - 2021 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship
ROC DEN 26 MAY 2021

“He’s a big, big player for us,” defenceman Morten Poulsen said about his goalie. “He’s started the tournament exceptionally well. You can see he’s playing with confidence and a defenceman likes to have a confident goalie behind him.”

ROC came dangerously close again with five minutes to play in the opening period when Nikita Zadorov’s wrister went under Dahm’s arm but got just enough of his body to change the puck’s trajectory, and it hit the goalpost.

“We knew it was going to be a tough game in our own zone but we had the game essentially where we wanted it,” said Poulsen. “I think we played really well and we can be happy with the performance, but not that happy about the result.”

For the most part, the second period went the way Denmark wanted, with a lot of neutral zone play but there were times when they had to illegally restrain the speedy Russians, which drew a couple of penalties. Getting to the second intermission still scoreless would have been huge for Denmark, but when Niklas Andersen was called for high-sticking with 2:07 to play, the Russians went to work.

First there were chances by Shalunov and Alexander Barabanov, which Dahm handled, but the pressure continued and finally, after a lengthy goalmouth scramble, Ivan Morozov was able to corral the puck and pick some free space on the near side with just 41.1 seconds on the clock.

“We got a good goal, the puck came to me and I scored,” said Morozov.

“We knew it was going to be a tight game; those guys skate hard, check hard,” said ROC defenceman Ivan Provorov. “We just played our game and waited for opportunities and then we had a few we were able to capitalize.”

The Danes didn’t give up in the third and came agonizingly close to tying the score on an early power play when Nicolai Meyer absolutely cranked a shot over Samonov’s shoulder and square off the crossbar.

“That puck dropped from the D and I tried to shoot it high and unfortunately it just hit the crossbar, said Meyer. “That’s unfortunate because it would’ve been a 1-1 game.”

Meyer added: “I think we had a good power play today. We moved the puck and we got a lot of shots through.”

“I really admire the effort brought today,” said Danish coach Heinz Ehlers. “We knew it was going to be tough but we gave ourselves a chance to get points today. We were down by a goal, got a power play and hit the crossbar. We need to score a goal to give us more confidence, but the guys are working really hard.”

Just over three minutes later, Barabanov pounced on a loose puck in the Danish zone and blasted a shot under Dahm’s arm to make it 2-0, and seriously damage any comeback attempt.

Dahm wasn’t ready to give up and stopped Anton Slepyshev on a breakaway with under five minutes to play, but Dmitri Voronkov eliminated any doubt about the outcome when he jumped on a Morozov attacking-zone faceoff win and fired it home with 3:25 to go.

Morozov said about Voronkov: “We started playing together against Slovakia, but this is Team ROC so every partner is an excellent player.”

ROC moves back even with Slovakia atop Group A with nine points although the Slovaks have a game in hand. They have two days off before facing Switzerland on Saturday. For that game, they will have some reinforcements to help on offence.

“There’s always worry before the game,” Bragin said about the team’s offensive woes of late. “But the main thing is to assess the situation properly and carefully set up the team to play the right way, especially on offence. It’s good that I know the (arriving) guys well. We’ve already spoken with Volodya Tarasenko and you can see how excited he is. He wants to play and to help the team.”

Despite the loss, the Danes remain in the mix with five points but and face Belarus in a very big game on Friday.

“Absolutely,” said Ehlers, when asked if the next game is a must-win. “Of course, Belarus would be thinking the same way, but if we get the same effort we gave today, I think it’s gonna be a pretty exciting game.”

ROC vs Denmark - 2021 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship