Russia qualifies early
by Andrew Podnieks|02 JAN 2021
Vasili Ponomaryov scores the opening goal on a short-handed breakaway.
photo: Andrea Cardin/HHOF-IIHF Images
Vasili Ponomaryov caught the Germans napping midway through the opening period, scoring a beautiful short-handed goal and leading Russia to a 2-1 win over Germany.

The result puts Russia in the semi-finals, while Germany now goes home after a valiant effort in the face of quarantine troubles.
Russia vs Germany (QF) - 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship
GER RUS 02 JAN 2021
Russia is now 8-0 all time against Germany in U20 play, with a 43-5 goals differential.

"The Germans played a similar game to the Czech Republic," coach Igor Larionov noted. "They played tight, defensive hockey and waited to counter-attack. They didn't give us many chances, and when they did, we missed the net a lot. Their team has been gelling the last couple of games when all their players got back. They showed a lot of energy and were our equals in battles for the puck. It was a tough quarter-finals game. It always is."

"The most important thing is that we won today, but we know we have to prepare and be better for the next game," offered Ponomaryov. "Today's game was similar to the one we played against the Czech Republic. We need to be more consistent in getting pucks to the net."

"We can be really proud of our tournament," said German captain Tim Stutzle. "I'm proud of the players and staff. We tried to be better every day. It's disappointing to lose the game. We had our chances, but in the end I was honoured to play for Germany and be the captain of the team. It was an unbelievable feeling. We were the first under-20 team to reach the quarter-finals for Germany. If you lose 2-1 to Russia, that's acceptable. I mean, I hate to lose, but it's better to lose 2-1 than the way we did against Canada."

The Germans played a solid defensive game in front of goalie Florian Bugl, blocking as many shots as the goalie had to face. They also had some quality scoring chances of their own but just couldn’t capitalize. Despite entering the game with the most power-play goals in the tournament (8), they also failed to take advantage of five power plays in the game.

"The time of the game also played a bit of a role perhaps," Larionov added. "It's a 10am game, not easy to play. It's probably the first time they played at that hour since they were kids. But at the end the day we're happy with the result and we move on and rest today and get ready for the semi-finals tomorrow."

"It was tough to play at 10am, but in the end it's not an excuse," Stutzle added. "We woke up at 7, had breakfast and a short meeting and went to the rink two hours early. Normal preparations, really, but totally different to play at 10am."

"When the disappointment disappears the pride will be there," coach Tobias Abstreiter said.

Ponomaryov scored his goal at 9:15, taking a breakaway pass from Semyon Chistyakov and beating Bugl with a nice deke to the forehand. 

It was a tough pill for the Germans to swallow as they had a bit of bad luck a few minutes earlier when Stutzle beat Yaroslav Askarov with a shot glove side, only to see the puck clang off the post and ricochet harmlessly into the corner.

Stutzle had another first-rate chance early in the second. Florian Elias made a fantastic, diving pass off a faceoff to Stutzle in the slot, but his quick shot was stopped by Askarov. 

The Russians made it 2-0 at 8:27, capitalizing on a giveaway by the Germans behind their own goal line. Yegor Afanasiev got the puck along the boards and made a perfect pass to Danil Bashkirov in front, and his quick shot beat Bugl to the stick side.

A short time later, Joshua Samanski had another great scoring chance from in front for the Germans, but again Askarov was that much better with the save.

The Germans got on the board early in the third thanks to two great plays by Elias. First, he stripped Rodion Amirov of the puck as Amirov was turning to exit the zone. Then, in one motion he rifled a shot past Askarov at 3:24 to make it a 2-1 game.

That got the team going, and moments later J-J Peterka had a nice chance, followed by Jan Munzenberger. A game which Russia seemed in control of was now very much up in the air. Peterka then snapped a nice pass to Elias, whose quick deflection went off the crossbar and out of play, mere inches from tying the game.

Elias got one final chance while his team was short-handed, but again Askarov was solid to the play and preserved the win.
Russia vs Germany (QF) - 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship