RUSSIA STAVES OFF LATE CZECH SURGE TO EARN SEMIFINAL SPOT AT U17S
SAULT STE. MARIE, Ont. – Andrey Svechnikov scored the game-winning goal early in the third period and added an insurance marker into an empty net late as Russia hung on to beat the Czech Republic 3-1 in quarter-final action Thursday at the 2016 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge.
The Russians will face either Finland or Canada Black in Friday’s late semifinal (7:30 p.m. ET).
Neither team was able to find the back of the net in the first period, as Russian goaltender Amir Miftakhov and Czech counterpart Lukas Dostal made nine and 11 saves, respectively, in the opening 20 minutes.
Scoring started early in the second, with Russia capitalizing on a broken play.
A Czech forward dove to block a pass, but in the process took out a defenceman and Russian forward, clogging up the crease and preventing Dostal from following the puck to the other side of the net, where Grigorii Denisenko tapped in the 1-0 goal just 37 seconds into the frame.
The Russians doubled up the Czechs in shots on goal in the second period, 14-7, and took their one-goal lead to the third.
In the final frame both teams found themselves in the penalty box early, leading to more than 90 seconds of four-on-four play. Svechnikov found a lane from the edge of his own defensive zone, along the boards, and through the crease, sliding the puck under Dostal as he went by to make it 2-0.
The Czechs didn’t panic and cut into the lead when Karel Plasek, coming off the half-boards and cutting into the slot, ripped a shot high over Miftakhov with 6:08 remaining, cutting the Russian lead to one.
Jakub Lauko, the tournament’s leading scorer, thought he tied the game in the final minute, throwing his hands up in celebration, but Miftakhov made the save with his shoulder to protect the advantage.
Svechnikov added his second goal into an empty net with 43.1 seconds remaining, sending the Czechs to a placement game; they’ll find out whether they’ll play for fifth or seventh, when, and against whom after the final quarter-final between Finland and Canada Black on Thursday night.