RUSSIA EDGES EAST IN DOUBLE-OT THRILLER, WINS FIRST GOLD
JASON LA ROSE
DAWSON CREEK, B.C. – Shakhir Mukhamadullin hammered in a power-play goal 5:43 into the second overtime, giving Russia a 2-1 win over Canada East on Sunday night and its first-ever gold medal at the 2019 World Junior A Challenge.
The Russians – who are the only team other than Canada East and Canada West to play in all 14 editions of the tournament – won their first gold after three losses in the final, including a 2-0 defeat to the U.S. last year.
Early in the second overtime, with the Russians enjoying just their second man advantage of the game, Mukhamadullin ripped a one-timer off the arm of Canadian forward Charles Tremblay (Saint-Félicien, Que./Longueuil, LHJAAAQ) and past goaltender Devon Levi (Dollard-des-Ormeaux, Que./Carleton Place, CCHL) for the game-winner.
Levi and Russian counterpart Yegor Guskov were the story for more than 80 minutes, both allowing just a single goal in the final five minutes of the third period.
Russia took the lead when Pavel Tyutnev gathered in a rebound off the end-boards and beat Levi with 4:21 left, but a pair of puck-over-the glass penalties and Levi on the bench made it a six-on-three for the Canadians, and Ryan Alexander (Toronto, Ont./St. Michael’s, OJHL) finished a cross-crease feed from Ryan O’Hara (Oakville, Ont./Oakville, OJHL) with 62 seconds to go to force overtime.
Both teams had their chances to open the scoring; the Russians hit two posts in the opening five minutes – and five overall – and Tremblay was turned aside by Guskov on a penalty shot midway through the second period after Matthew Vermaeten (Ottawa, Ont./Rockland, CCHL) was hooked on a breakaway.
East had arguably the best chance of the first overtime; Dovar Tinling (Pointe-Claire, Que./Hawkesbury, CCHL) beat Guskov off a Tremblay rebound, but was inches wide of the net.
The Canadians finished with silver for the sixth time, joining 2006, 2007, 2010, 2011 and 2016.
Following the game, Levi was named tournament MVP, while Guskov joined East defenceman Philippe Chapleau (Longueuil, Que./Longueuil, LHJAAAQ), Russia defender Daniil Chayka, American forwards Brendan Brisson and Gunnarwolfe Fontaine, and East captain Ryland Mosley (Arnprior, Ont./Carleton Place, CCHL) on the all-star team.
The 2020 World Junior A Challenge will be played Dec. 13-19 in Cornwall, Ont.