Ovi happy, Alzner sad. Pic’s blurry, but yet so very, very perfect. (Photo credit: Tarik El-Bashir)
Karl Alzner has been hating on everything Russian over the past week. First, he gave us low marks on RMNB’s “Caps Fans and Bad Habits” post. More recently, he bet against Team Russia in the WJC and the only Caps prospect in the tournament, Evgeny Kuznetsov. Why? So he could show allegiance to his Canadian homeland. Deplorable.
And that’s why the humility train made a quick stop at Kettler Capitals IcePlex. Alzner had to wear an ugly Russia jersey from the pits of Alex Ovechkin’s closet. Alzner wore the unsightly thing all practice long and described it as “the worst morning of my life.”
“Canada, I can’t hear you.” (Photo credit: Elena Rusko)
One year ago in the WJC gold medal game, Canada held what seemed to be an insurmountable 3-0 lead over Team Russia heading into the third period. During the second intermission, Head Coach Valery Bragin pleaded with his team to respond, and respond they did. Russia stormed back– riding three assists by Evgeny Kuznetsov to win the gold medal game 5-3 and shock the hockey world.
Entering the 2012 WJC, Russia intended to prove that last year’s win over Canada was no fluke. Despite being the defending champions, the team still held underdog status. Kuznetsov, Russia’s captain and the only returning player from 2011, netted his second WJC hat trick in three games, pushing Russia to a 6-5 win.
After the game, Allhockey.ru’s Andrey Osadchenko spoke to Kuznetsov and filmed his entire Q/A with reporters. Below the jump, I offer a translation.
Before facing Canada in the semifinal round of the World Junior Championship, Caps prospect Evgeny Kuznetsov was asked, ”Do you want to spoil the holiday season for Canada?” Kuznetsov replied, “No, I rather want Russia to keep on drinking.”
Kuznetsov backed up those words with 4 points (assist and a hat trick) in a 6-5 win over tourney host Team Canada. Combining this game and last year’s Russia-Canada game, Kuznetsov has 3 goals, 4 assists, and 7 points. His overall tally in the WJC tourney with one game remaining is 6 goals, 7 assists, and 13 points. The 19-year-old leads the tournament in scoring despite only registering points in only two of Russia’s six WJC games.
Here are the video highlights from Kuznetsov’s big night in Calgary.
Thanks to his nine-point game versus the Latvians, Evgeny Kuznetsov was already the talk of the World Junior Championship before the semifinal game on Tuesday night, but his star-making performance in Russia’s 6-5 victory over Canada has made him the premiere young hockey talent in the world.
The Canadians recovered from a second period meltdown — which ended with them down 6-1– to mount a dramatic comeback in the third with 4 unanswered goals in 5 minutes. The game ended before Canada could close the gap.
Kuznetsov and his teammates celebrate his hat-trick. (Photo credit: Mike Sturk)
19-year-old Caps prospect Evgeny Kuznetsov had 0 points heading into Russia’s third World Junior Championship game. On Monday, he was shutdown in Russia’s 3-0 victory over Switzerland. On Wednesday, a frustrated Kuznetsov still could not land on the scoresheet despite rifling nine shots on goal against the Slovaks.
Enter Latvia. After not registering a point in the game’s first 27 minutes, Kuznetsov exploded, tallying an insane nine points over the next 33 minutes pushing Russia to a 14-0 victory.
You can check out video of his big night below the jump.
Team Russia shocked the world by coming back from a 3-0 deficit in the gold medal game against Canada to win the IIHF U20 World Junior Championship one year ago. Tremendous coaching, discipline, and a lot of luck made a good team great. Several players also proved that they were the real deal, including Dmitry Orlov (currently playing in Washington), Vladimir Tarasenko (Blues prospect currently ranked fifth in KHL in goals), Maxim Kitsyn (KHL’s Metallurg Novokuznetsk), Artemy Panarin (Vityaz), and — the youngest of the bunch — Evgeny Kuznetsov. Role players from last year’s team, Nikita Dvurechenski (KHL’s Vityaz), Anton Burdasov (third-line center on the KHL’s Traktor Chelyabinsk), and Nikita Pivtsakin (KHL’s Avangard Omsk), have also graduated to become full-time KHL players.
Unfortunately, age eligibility rules have forced a drastic change to Russia, who is looking to repeat as champions for the first time since 2002 and 2003. The only returning player is Caps prospect Evgeny Kuznetsov. Kuzya, the captain wearing #25, is sure to be a major key to success for the Russians. He’s played in the tournament before, scored, and assisted on clutch goals.