Russian blowout leaves Czechs fourth
by Lucas Aykroyd|01 MAY 2021
Prokhor Poltapov (#13) was one of three Russians with a multi-goal game in the 11-1 victory over the Czech Republic to round out Group B action at the 2021 U18 Worlds.
photo: Chris Tanouye / HHOF-IIHF Images

In their last Group B game, Russia roared to a 11-1 win over the Czech Republic on Saturday at Frisco’s Comerica Center. Phenom Matvei Michkov led the Russian attack with a hat trick and an assist. 

The Russians moved into top spot in Group B with nine points. The door remains open for Finland (eight points) to overtake Russia with a win or extra-time loss to the host U.S. (six points) in the late Frisco game. Russia rallied to defeat the Americans 7-6 in overtime in their opener, and the Finns edged Russia 4-3 in a shootout. The Group B winner will battle Switzerland in the quarter-final.

Asked to comment on the fact that his team has only allowed two goals in its last two games and took just two PIM against the Czechs, Russian coach Albert Leshyov said: "Discipline is always number one in any plan, and they say that discipline overcomes class. This is what we take as a motto, and we're going to use it further."

Prokhor Poltapov added two goals and an assist, and Fyodor Svechkov had a pair. Danila Yurov stepped up with a goal and three assists, and captain Nikita Chibrikov earned three helpers.

Michkov, a 16-year-old MHL sniper whose KHL contract with SKA St. Petersburg runs to 2026, now leads the U18 Worlds with nine goals, seven coming in his last two games. The co-owners of the single-tournament goals record (14) are Alexander Ovechkin (2002) and Cole Caufield (2019).

Russia's Arseni Koromyslov said of Michkov: ‚Äč"He's one of the best players on our team, and I know him quite well because I play with him, not just on the national team, but also at the junior level in Russia. He's got everything he needs to be a great player. He just has to develop it."

The Czech Republic, unable to match Russia's speed and skill, finished fourth in the group. The Czechs will face the first-place team in Group A – likely Canada – in Monday’s U18 Worlds quarter-finals. (Canada faces Belarus in the Group A finale, and the Canadians hammered the Belarusians 11-1 in their last meeting in 2019.)

"It's tough to say something after a game like this," said Petr. "But I've coached so many games against Russia, U18, U20, the Hlinka Gretzky Cup, 5 Nations, whatever. And you know that they're the Red Machine. My players were not in their skin today. But like I said, two days ago, I'm still with my team. Everybody knows that the tournament starts in two days. I believe we're going to be ready."

Russian goalie Sergei Ivanov got the win as shots favoured his side 40-22. After the first period, Petr made the decision to replace starter Oliver Satny, who gave up three goals on 11 shots, with Tomas Suchanek.

Just 1:23 in, Michkov drew first blood with a bad-angle shot from the bottom of the faceoff circle.

The Czechs weathered an early Russian power play with David Jiricek off for tripping and established a better forecheck, but still couldn’t find the range.

Poltapov stole the puck from Jiricek at the Russian blue line and stormed in on a breakaway to beat Satny five-hole for a 2-0 lead at 13:10. Poltapov, an 18-year-old forward, led the MHL's Krasnaya Armija Moskva this season with 25 goals and 52 points in 61 games.

With Stanislav Svozil off for interference, Ivan Miroshnichenko made it 3-0 with his third goal of the tournament, a power-play blast from the left faceoff circle at 17:39.

"We didn't play our game," said the Czech Republic's Jakub Altrichter. "We didn't play the way we said we would in the locker room, from the beginning of the match."

In the second period, Suchanek strove to keep his team in it, foiling Yurov on a breakaway near the eight-minute mark. But just past the halfway mark, Koromyslov's rising shot from the blue line bulged the twine for a four-goal lead.

"I believe we've gained confidence after every game here in the preliminary round," said Koromyslov. "Everyone understands that the playoffs are the most important part of this tournament, and I think that we're going to be fully prepared for the quarter-final game."

At 12:28, the Czechs finally caught a break. David Moravec's left point shot was tipped in by Jakub Kos and the puck slipped through Ivanov to spoil his shutout hopes. The goal was video-reviewed to check for a high stick, but deemed good.

Seeking to fire his team up, Czech captain Jakub Sedlivy slammed Chibrikov into the boards deep in the Czech end. But Dmitri Katelevski converted a rebound at 13:44 to restore Russia's momentum with a 5-1 lead.

With a bit of fantastic stickhandling, including a nice toe drag move, Poltapov put the game out of reach with a slick power-play wrister at 18:45.

"We played well as a team," said Poltapov. "We stuck to our discipline, and we did exactly what our coaches told us."

In the third period, Michkov provided more magic, spinning away from a Czech defender on the side boards to launch a high, short-side wrister from the right faceoff dot for a 7-1 gap at 15:50.

Just 1:10 later, Svechkov broke in alone and fired the puck through Suchanek's legs to make it 8-1.

Things just got worse for the Czechs at 9:13 when forward Marcel Marcel was assessed a five-minute major and game misconduct for a hit from behind on Russian blueliner Vladimir Sapunov. And at 11:45, Svechkov hooked up with Chibrikov to score his second of the game on the power play.

Yurov made it 10-1 with 2:41 left, and Michkov was left unguarded off a faceoff in the Czech zone to score his hat trick goal with a wicked release with 1:12 remaining.

"We want to forget this game," said the Czech Republic's Jiri Tichacek. "We can only take the mistakes from this and improve in all the things we do."

At the U18 level, Russia has dominated the traditional hockey rivalry with the Czechs. This win brings Russia’s all-time head-to-head record to 10 wins, one tie and three losses.

Russia vs Czech Republic - 2021 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 World Championship