Matvei Michkov scored four times, including a second-period natural hat trick with a spectacular lacrosse-style goal, to spark Russia to an 6-1 victory over winless Germany on Thursday. The SKA-1946 St. Petersburg sniper, who is only 16, leads the Russians with six U18 Worlds goals so far.
"Basically, the emotions are pretty regular," Michkov said. "The most important thing is that we got the win, and every game after this can be tougher, so we have to be ready."
"I think he's a very talented player," said Connor Korte, who had Germany's lone goal. "He's still very young, but he had a perfect game against us. That's obviously something that we don't like to have against us. But hats off to him. He had a great game and scored some pretty nice goals."
It was yet another example of how fans at Frisco's Comerica Center have been treated to a ridiculous amount of entertainment in Group B so far.
Russian head coach Albert Leshyov's boys outshot Germany 40-17 as Russian goalie Sergei Ivanov had an easy road to his first U18 Worlds victory. Ivanov did yeoman's work in the 4-3 shootout loss to Finland with 52 saves.
This was Russia’s fifth consecutive victory over Germany at the U18 Worlds. In 13 all-time meetings, Germany has only beaten Russia once, 4-2 at the 2012 tournament in the Czech Republic.
In their opening two losses to the Czech Republic (3-1) and the host U.S. (5-3), the Germans put up a valiant fight. Yet German coach Steffen Ziesche's players struggled with the pace here in their third game in four days. The newly promoted team will miss the quarter-finals, but fortunately, there is no relegation this year.
"Congrats to the Russian team," said Ziesche. "They played pretty well. We had a lot of problems with their speed, and as a result we had too many mistakes in our zone, too many turnovers. Russia is a good offensive team. They don't need too many chances to score and that's what they did."
The two sides felt each other out for the first 10 minutes. Seconds after a Russian 2-on-1 failed to click, Danila Yurov broke through at 10:44. Fyodor Svechkov fed Yurov from below the goal line and he fought past a German blueliner to loft the puck past goalie Nikita Quapp.
Just 30 seconds into the middle frame, more deadly Russian skill was on display. Michkov picked the puck up on his stick behind Quapp’s cage and scored his lacrosse-style goal with technical precision for a 2-0 lead. The 2004-born forward, a top prospect for the 2023 NHL Draft, became the second player at these U18 Worlds to pull off the move after Belarus's Dmitri Kuzmin.
The Russians increased their intensity, and Michkov was just getting started. At 7:12, he swung past Quapp to retrieve a rebound and just got it over the netminder's right pad for a 3-0 lead.
Russia's Prokhor Poltapov had a couple of glorious opportunities to score, including a toedrag move to the net and a breakaway. The hard-working Germans simply couldn't keep up with all these fireworks.
Things got worse for Ziesche's boys when defenceman Rayan Bettahar rammed into Poltapov along the side boards in the Russian end and was assessed a five-minute major and game misconduct for charging.
On the ensuing power play, the Michkov show continued. At 15:29, the MHL ace completed his hat trick with a cheeky between-the-legs goal from the bottom of the right faceoff circle. Michkov sports jersey number 17, like Valeri Kharlamov and Ilya Kovalchuk, and bore a resemblance to those legends in this game.
"Both Kharlamov and Kovalchuk are great players," said Michkov. "They did a lot for our sport, and it is a great honour to wear number 17."
Just 29 seconds later, Germany's Roman Zap got hauled down by Poltapov on a breakaway and was awarded a penalty shot. But despite coming in with good speed, Zap was unable to put in his backhand deke.
Early in the third period, only a fantastic right pad stop by Quapp prevented Svechkov from giving Russia a five-goal cushion. Russia's earlier games, including the 7-6 overtime comeback win versus the U.S., certainly emphasized the importance of never letting up.
At 5:48, on the rush, Ilya Kvochko's cross-ice pass deflected in off German blueliner Maxim Rausch and made it 5-0. The goal was originally credited to Michkov, but video review denied him his fourth goal of the game. Temporarily, anyway.
Germany's Korte went to the net on the rush and converted Zap's pass to spoil Ivanov's shutout bid with 5:29 left, but it was too late for a miracle comeback.
Michkov scored his fourth goal of the game from the slot with 1:41 left on Alexander Figurin's centering pass. This was truly a game that the 16-year-old Russian gunner and his fans back home in the Motherland will not never forget.
"Matvei plays better from game to game," Leshyov said. "And obviously I'd like to congratulate him, but at the end of the day, his four goals are from a team effort. This is how it happened."
The Germans will round out their preliminary round against Finland, and Zap noted: "Obviously we want to play better than today. We want to show that we have the ability to win against Finland, and I know we can if we play better, for sure."