Klimovich leads Belarus to win
by Andrew Podnieks|27 APR 2021
photo: Ryan McCullough / HHOF-IIHF Images
Danila Klimovich scored three power-play goals this afternoon to lead Belarus to a 7-1 win over Switzerland in U18 action in Plano. Despite his heroics, though, he has to share centre stage with defenceman Dmitri Kuzmin, who scored a beautiful lacrosse goal during a three-goal second period.

In all, Belarus scored four straight goals with the man advantage—the first three with Swiss forward Noah Greuter in the penalty box—and dominated a game that had started off in Switzerland’s favour.

"We practised the power play a lot during training camp and focused on positional, explaining to the players where they should be, so we're happy with how well it worked today," said winning coach Dmitri Shulga. "I'm happy with how we've been playing. The first period tonight wasn't very good, but the players listened to us and adjusted for the rest of the game."

"In any tournament you're going to have back-to-back games," said Swiss defenceman Brian Zanetti about playing late yesterday and early today. "You have to be mentally ready. There's no excuse we weren't ready tonight, so we have to make adjustments for the next game. We took too may penalties, and they scored when they had the chance."

It's only two games old, but Klimovich already leads the tournament in goals with four, all on the power play, and while he wasn't on the radar of any NHL scout entering the tournament, he sure is now.

Both teams now have a day off and will resume play on Thursday. The Swiss will play Sweden in the afternoon game, while Belarus is in action that night against Latvia.

The Swiss took it to Belarus in the early going, using their speed and aggressive forecheck to bottle Belraus in its own end and force turnovers. But they didn’t create many scoring chances for their efforts.

The first turn of events took place at 7:40 when Kuzmin took a double minor for high-sticking. With the opportunity to break the game open, though, the Swiss not only came up empty but didn’t even have the best chance of the four minutes. 

That came when Swiss defenceman Lian Bichsel was slow to take a point shot from the middle of the ice and had it blocked. Fyodor Nikolayenya controlled the loose puck and dashed the length of the ice only to be denied by Kevin Pasche.

But the momentum had changed, and a few minutes later Belarus got a power play of their own. Danila Klimovich converted at 12:51 with a bad angle shot that beat Pasche high to the short side. It was Klimovich’s second goal in as many games, and he now counted for both Belarus goals so far in the tournament.

Kuzmin made it 2-0 early in the second. He glided down the right wing, and as he went in behind the next he used his speed to put the puck on the blade of his stick. He came around the back side and jammed it over the glove of Pasche for a highlight goal.

But as Belarus was celebrating, the Swiss got back into the game. Right off the ensuing faceoff Dario Sidler made a great pass to Livio Truog, who went in alone and beat Tikhon Chaika to make it 2-1.

The Swiss just couldn’t stay out of the penalty box, though, and Klimovich made it 3-1 at 6:50 after taking a great cross-crease pass from captain Vladislav Shilo and burying it in the back side. Two minutes later, he scored his hat-trick goal by corralling a rebound from the same spot.

"I expected Danila would play well, so I'm not surprised by what he has done so far," said Shulga of his new-found sniper.

Swiss coach Marcel Jenni inserted backup goalie Mathieu Croce to start the third, and it wasn't long before he allowed a goal. Belarus scored its first even-strengh goal of the tournament at 4:36 of the third. Nikolayenya made a great pass from behind the net to Danil Sotishvili in front, and he snapped it home before Croce knew what happened.

Ivan Anoshko made it 6-1 at 14:37 on a penalty shot, making a deke on Croce and tucking the puck betwen the pads. Sotishvili finished the scoring with a short-handed marker with less than two minutes to go.
Switzerland vs Belarus - 2021 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 World Championship