Kuznetsov poses with the second-place silver platter. (Photo credit: Francois Laplante)
After defeating Canada 6-5 Tuesday, Team Russia returned to Calgary’s Saddledome on Thursday night to take on Sweden in the WJC’s gold medal game. Russia struggled from the get-go and only found their game in spurts during the third period.
The shot statistics tell the tale. Russia went without a shot on goal for the first 12:34 of the game, and at the end of the first period Sweden had outshot them 17 to 3.
The second period was even worse, as Russia managed to throw only one puck on net. By the end of the third period, Sweden held a 50 to 16 shot advantage. The game, however, remained scoreless.
In overtime, after outshooting Russia 8-1, Mika Zibanejad scored the golden goal on a breakaway, giving Sweden its first U-20 championship in 31 years. Caps prospect and captain of the Russian WJC team, Evgeny Kuznetsov, returned to the bench, crouched over, and weeped.
“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.
Caps prospects Dmitri Orlov (center, holding the trophy’s handle) and Evgeny Kuznetsov (bottom right, biting his medal enthusiastically) pose with Team Russia following their thrilling 5-3 victory over Canada in the WJC’s Gold Medal Game. (Photo credit: Nathan Denette)
HUGS! Evgeny Kuznetsov embraces Head Coach Valeri Bragin. (Photo credit: Rick Stewart)
Suffice to say, when Kuznetsov landed back home in Russia this past Saturday, he was met with a large media horde. RMNB’s Igor Kleyner has translated two Russian articles from this past weekend, which detail Evgeny’s feelings on his new gold medal, what it was like to play in front of such a hostile crowd, and that whole ‘underage-drinking/being-kicked-off-a-plane’ scandal.
With Fedor Fedin concentrating full-time on Prospect Watch, RMNB needed a new translator. After a few months of searching, RMNB is finally happy to introduce Igor Kleyner. Igor is a native of St Petersburg, Russia, who transplanted himself to the Washington D.C. area around the same time Peter Bondra came to town in the early nineties. He currently works at Nasa and designs electronics for their spacecraft. Yes, another member of the team that can now beat Peter at Words with Friends.