Russia wins gold at World U17 Hockey Challenge

 

By Joel Charron

It took them awhile but Team Russia has ended a 12-year drought by capturing gold at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge.

The Russians defeated Team USA 7-4 Wednesday night at the WFCU Centre in Windsor.

Sergi Tolchinski recorded a hat trick, including a shorthanded penalty shot to earn player of the game honours.

 

USA’s John Hayden (white) tries to keep his ground as he is being pushed by Russian defenseman Rushan Rafikov to clear the view for Nikita Serebryakov

“For most of the guys, it was the biggest tournament in their life. All of the players understood that, today’s game and overall the whole tournament, in the future they might not be able to play that level again. You never know. We’re just so glad to win the tournament,” said Tolchinski through a translator.

Things looked rough for the Russian in the early going. USA’s Evan Allan scored the only goal of the first period, beating Russian goalie Nikita Serebryakov.

After trailing for most of the second period Tolchinski tied the game at 1-1 when he beat USA goalie Hunter Miska.

Valeri Nuchushkin gave Russia its first lead shortly after, however Will Butcher tied it back up at 2-2 for the American swith a slap shot from the point on the power play.

Russia would retake the lead when Nikita Chereponov’s shot from 80 feet away took Miska by surprise and found the back of the net.

Russia led 3-2 after two periods.

Tolchinski added his second goal of the game with a shorthanded penalty shot just 3:20 into the period and Ivan Barbashev scored to push the Russian lead to 5-2.

Not to be out done, the Americans dug deep and made a surge of their own.

J.T. Compher and Anthony Lewis scored three minutes apart, bringing Team USA within one.

However, Russia weathered the US attack and knocked in a pair of empty net goals to

Team Russia gathers for a team picture shortly after winning gold at the World Under 17 Hockey Challenge.

preserve its first World Under-17 Hockey Challenge title since 2000.

“We feel like champions. It’s a great feeling. We’re really tired, but it’s great we are champions,” said Russian head coach Sergei Suyarkov. “For me, as a young coach, and for my players, it’s a great experience to be involved in a tournament like this. Hopefully, in the future, we’re involved in tournaments like this again.”

He noted that the Americans beat his squad 6-2 and 5-0 in the Four Nations Cup two months ago on Russian ice.

“We have it back,” he said.

USA head coach Don Granato said he was proud of his kids, however fatigue caught up with them.

“It’s a very good hockey team over there, no question,” he said. “I think both teams were hungry. With us, I thought fatigue was a real factor and certainly frustration. Just some plays that were fatigue related, unfortunately, and that’s what happens in a tournament like this, but the effort was there. No question.”

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