Kazakhs record first win ever
by Chris Jurewicz|29 APR 2024
The “happy to be here” storyline is so last week for Team Kazakhstan.

The Kazakhs shocked many in the hockey world with a 4-3 overtime win over Czechia during preliminary-round action at the 2024 IIHF U18 World Championship on Monday. It marked the first-ever victory for Kazakhstan at the U18s. The team was 0-6 the last time it competed at this event in 2003.

Mstislav Shipilin scored in overtime after a nifty cross-crease pass from Semyon Cherkassov and the Kazakhs celebrated with their win in style. Shipilin’s one-timer that beat Czechia goaltender Jakub Milota sent the boys in blue into a frenzy. They poured onto the ice and then formed a circle arm-in-arm, jumping up and down and hooting and hollering as their fans in Vantaa cheered from the stands. They then stood at the blueline singing their national anthem, a moment to remember to be sure.

"It was a good, spirited victory," says Kazakhstan head coach Georgi Vereshagin. "The first victory in the top division, especially over such a strong opponent as Czechia, is very important for the team and for the country in general. It motivates us for even better results in future games. "

Towering defender Roman Bolshedvorsky, who had a goal and an assist and almost 22 minutes of ice time, says this is a great win for Kazakhstan.

"We feel great and I think we are lucky because we won against one of the best teams in this group," says Bolshedvorsky. "It was a really great game and I think our level has been rising and we will look to play even better in the next game."

Kazakhstan earned two points for the overtime win and has one game remaining in the preliminary round, that being against Canada on Tuesday.

Shipilin was the overtime hero against Czechia but the game went to overtime thanks to Alexandr Perkin’s goal at 12:45 of the third. Perkin took a pass from Timofey Simonov in the neutral zone, walked into the offensive zone and snapped the puck past Milota to tie it 3-3.

After the Czechs went ahead 2-0 in the first period, it appeared the game might get out of hand for Kazakhstan but the Kazakhs battled all game, overcoming deficits of 2-0 and 3-2.

Ondrej Kos opened the scoring at 13:37 of the first period on a nice play that started with Matej Kubiesa keeping the puck in the Kazakh zone then sending a pass down low to Petr Sikora, who saw an open Kos in front of the net and quickly sent him the puck. Kos made no mistake with a quick shot that beat Abylaikhan Toleubay.

Just over two minutes later, Adam Benak made it 2-0 with a goal simply created by hard work. The tenacious forward had his original shot stopped by Toleubay and then outworked two Kazakh players to get the loose puck and slam it home.

Just before the end of the first, Bolshedvorsky – the lone returning player from last year’s Kazakhstan team that won the 2023 U181A Worlds – scored on a nice snap shot from the top of the faceoff circle just as Kazakhstan killed off a penalty.

Kazakhstan tied the game 2-2 at 3:15 of the second, a quick strike that came right off the faceoff. Bolshedvorsky’s point shot was stopped, as was a rebound off the stick of Alisher Sarkenov, but Czech goaltender Jakub Milota was unable to stop another shot from Korney Korneyev.

Adam Jecho gave the Czechs a 3-2 lead at 18:42 of the second when he one-timed a perfect pass from Alexandr Perkin with the duo on a 2-on-1.

Czechia will now prepare for the quarter-finals, but its opponent will not be known until the conclusion of the preliminary round on Tuesday.