Russia wins first game
by Andrew Podnieks|27 DEC 2021
Swiss goalie Kevin Pasche of Switzerland makes a save against Matvei Michkov of Russia.
photo: Matt Zambonin / HHOF-IIHF Images
Team Russia alleviated the pain from yesterday’s undisciplined 5-3 loss to Sweden with an unexpectedly tricky 4-2 win over Switzerland this afternoon in Red Deer. The Swiss were playing their first game of the tournament and scrambled to produce a lineup of 20 skaters for the game, but they played patient defence and for the most part stymied the vaunted Russian attack.

For its part, Russia did a much better job of staying out of the penalty box, and that superior discipline went a long way to the victory. Yesterday they allowed three power-play goals on five short-handed situations, including two five-on-threes.

"The coaches told us before the game it was important to play with more discipline," said Russian forward Danila Yurov, one of the four goalscorers for the winners. "We did a much better job today, which is why we got the W."

It was Russia’s ninth win in a row against the Swiss dating back to 2010 and improved their overall record to 25-2-2 in 29 games against the Swiss. Among those 25 loses were two in 1991 and 1992 by scores of 10-1 and 10-2, witnessed first hand by coach Marco Bayer, who played for the Swiss at the U20 those years.

"Scoring at the World Juniors is a great feeling," added Dmitri Zlodeyev, "but the most important thing is that we won. We played aggressively and did our job well."

"We got better the whole game and will continue like that in tomorrow’s game," offered Swiss captain Dario Sidler, who logged a game high 24:29 of ice time. "We’re a really good team and will open a lot of eyes. Nobody talks about the Swiss guys, but we made a step today and tomorrow we have the chance to win a game and surprise people. We were hyped before this game also because we didn’t have the exhibition games and it was a difficult time with the quarantine around Christmas and being afraid that more of us could have been infected. We’re happy that we could finally play."
Russia built a 3-0 lead quickly in the opening period and looked to be on their way to a blowout win, but a late goal by Attilio Biasca gave the underdogs some hope through 20 minutes. Yurov opened the scoring at 7:21 on a lucky play. Goalie Kevin Pasche made a great pad save on Nikita Chibrikov’s shot off the rush, but the rebound came right to Yurov. His shot hit the skate of defender Lilian Garessus and beat Pasche to the short side. 

Zlodeyev made it 2-0 at 15:42. He tried a shot from behind the icing line, and although the puck hit the back of the mesh it came back to him. He skated out the other side, and beat Pasche before the goalie could get over.

"I came into the zone and thought I had a good chance to score on the short side," Zlodeyev commented. "That didn't work, but I was able to get the puck again and found a way to score from the other side."

Less than two minutes later, it was 3-0. Defender Noah Meier followed the puck but let his man alone in front, and Pavel Tyutnev got the puck and fired it under Pasche’s glove arm.

But just when it seemed the Russians were going to coast to victory, Biasca brought some excitement to the Swiss bench when he wired a shot past the glove of Yegor Guskov to the far side. The play started when Russian blueliner Nikita Novikov was caught flatfooted at the Swiss blue line.

Pasche kept it a 3-1 game early in the second when he made a larcenous stop on Semyon Demidov from in close, and soon after Russia got the first power play of the game. But in a moment of thoughtlessness reminiscent of yesterday when they allowed a short-handed goal, it was the Swiss who had the best chance on the ensuing man advantage. 

Kirill Kirsanov was lax with the puck at the Swiss blue line and Christophe Cavalleri raced down the ice on the breakaway. Fortunately for Russia, he was at the end of a shift and didn’t have the lungs to create the space needed for a decent shot, but the play showed again Russia’s apparent vulnerability with the extra skater.

It wasn't until early in the third that the Swiss got their first power play, and they nearly connected. Joel Henry wired a shot from the left faceoff circle that beat Guskov but rang hard off the post and stayed out.

Matvei Michkov made it a 4-1 game at 11:57 with his third goal in two games. He finished a nice three-way passing play off the rush, finding an opening in Pasche's armour where none seemed to be. But the Swiss weren't finished yet.

Fabian Ritzmann made a deft tip of a Dario Allenspach shot at 18:45 to make it a two-goal game again. Russian coach Sergei Zubov challenged the play for offside on the entry, but video review upheld the goal call on ice and Russia incurred a bench minor as a result. The Swiss had good possesstion during those final 75 seconds but couldn't get another shot past Guskov.

The Swiss are back in action tomorrow against the United States while the Russians get a day off before facing Slovakia on Wednesday afternoon.

"We for sure didn’t start the way we expected, but the longer the game went the more we did the right steps," said Bayer. "We missed that exhibition game because we need to find out at which level we play here and adjust to the smaller rink. But we take that and we will be better game after game."
Russia vs Switzerland - 2022 IIHF World Junior Championship