Category: Tournaments (page 1 of 15)

Swedes perfect at home

Sweden’s Magnus Hellberg led all goaltenders in save percentage

By Derek O’Brien – IIHF.com

The third leg of the 2019/20 Euro Hockey Tour stopped in Stockholm, Sweden for the Beijer Hockey Games. The host Swedes took the maximum nine points from three games. They were followed by the Czech Republic with five points, Finland with three and Russia with one.

Entering the weekend’s final game on Sunday night, Finland had an opportunity to beat Sweden and win the tournament. However, before at crowd of 12,166 at the Ericsson Globe, the Swedes built up a 3-0 lead in the first period before cruising to a 5-1 win. Linus Johansson scored the game’s first and last goals, while five Swedes topped the tournament in points. Mathias Brome and Marcus Nilsson had four points each while Samuel Fagemo, Lukas Bengtsson, Fredrik Handemark and Finn Julius Junttila had three each. Handemark, captain of the SHL’s Malmo Redhawks, is the EHT’s overall scoring leader this season with six points in nine games. 

Fagemo’s goal against Finland was his second for the Swedish senior men’s national team in as many career games. After winning the Champions Hockey League final with Frolunda Gothenburg on Tuesday, the top scorer of this year’s World Junior Championship didn’t play in Sweden’s first game against the Czechs on Thursday but scored his first goal in his men’s national team debut on Saturday in a 5-2 win over Russia.

“Everything’s happened so quickly and I’ve just tried to enjoy it the best I can,” Fagemo told hockeysverige.se before Sunday’s game. “It’s fun to score goals and it was great to contribute, and I hope another good game can help us win on home ice.”

Fagemo isn’t the only former World Junior player to score his first two senior men’s international goals this weekend. Earlier on Sunday, the Czechs secured second place with a 4-3 shootout win over Russia. Defenceman Jan Kostalek of Sparta Prague scored twice in the third period, including the equalizer at 59:58 to force overtime.

“I took a shot, Keba (Jakub Jerabek) drove to the net and deflected it on goal, the puck bounced off someone, it came back to me at the top of the circle and all I did was take another whack at it and it went in,” the 24-year-old told hokej.cz after the game. “I was getting lots of shots, so it’s nice that they’re finally going in for me.” 

Swede Magnus Hellberg and Czech Dominik Furch were the only goalies to win two games over the weekend, and the pair dominated all goaltending categories, finishing 1-2 in goals-against average, save percentage and saves. 

Finland’s three points all came from their opening 3-0 win over Russia, which took place in Helsinki. In his home rink, IFK Helsinki goalie Frans Tuohimaa made 18 saves to record the tournament’s only shutout.

The single point gained in the shootout loss to the Czechs was Russia’s only in the tournament after two straight regulation losses, but denied them a chance to force a three-way tie for second. Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk forward Pavel Poryadin, 23, scored two of the team’s five goals over the weekend.

With three of four legs complete, Sweden and the Czech Republic are now tied for first place in this season’s Euro Hockey Tour with 16 points each, followed by Finland with 14 and Russia with eight. The last stop will be in the Czech Republic on the first weekend in May, just before the start of the IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship. For that event, the rosters of the four teams will look very similar to the ones they take to Switzerland.

Europe’s top four hockey nations use the Euro Hockey Tour to prepare their men’s national teams for the annual World Championships and the quadrennial Winter Olympics.

Austria, Slovakia and Switzerland win other events

Meanwhile, at the Kaufland Cup in Poprad, Slovakia, the hosts beat Belarus 4-3 and the Russian B team 2-1 to finish first. Russia B finished second with three points and Belarus lost both games.

“We played as a team. The players battled for each other,” Slovak head coach Craig Ramsay told hockeyslovakia.sk following the last game of the tournament on Saturday, in which his team scored twice in the first 13 minutes, then held on to beat the Russians. “I think it was our best game of the season.” 

The Osterreich Cup took place in Klagenfurt, Austria, with the host Austrians finishing first by beating Denmark 3-2 in the final on an overtime goal by Ali Wukovitz. Denmark never trailed in regulation time and held a 32-22 edge in shots but Bernhard Starkbaum was solid in the Austrian net. The game for third place was a defensive affair, with France beat Norway 2-1 in a shootout.

Finally, Switzerland won two games against Germany in a series called Prospects Games, in which each team tested young players with limited previous experience with their men’s national teams. With no players over 25 on their roster, the Swiss won 4-2 in Herisau and 2-1 in a shootout in Olten.

Canada wins fourth Spengler Cup title in five years

By National Teams of Ice Hockey

Canada has won the Spengler Cup for the fourth time in the past five years.

The national men’s hockey team defeated Ocelari Trinec  of the Czechia 4-0 in the final.

Dustin Jeffrey scored twice and added an assist to lead Canada past Ocelari Trinec on Tuesday afternoon in Davos, Switzerland.

Canada lost last year’s final in a shootout against KalPa Kuopio of Finland.

It’s Canada’s fourth Spengler Cup title in the past five years and 16th overall.

Swedes, Swiss win tournaments

Dennis Rasmussen (right) scored two goals at the last World Championship and now two goals in Sweden’s Channel One Cup triumph

By Andy Potts – IIHF.com

Sweden, beaten in its first three games under new head coach Johan Garpenlov, hit back hard in Russia to win the Channel One Cup. Tre Kronor defeated the host nation and the Czechs, coming out on top in the latest stage of the Euro Hockey Tour despite a painful 1-5 defeat against Finland in the middle game of its three.

The Finland game was also notable for Frans Tuohimaa’s empty-net goal. There’s nothing very unusual about a shot from beyond the red line going into an unguarded net, but Tuohimaa is a goalie. Goaltenders rarely turn goalgetters, but this was a memorable exception.

However, Garpenlov’s team was the success of the tournament – and the head coach had every cause for relief as it bounced back from a dismal display in the Karjala Tournament last month.

“It feels really good,” the head coach said. “I’m happy for the guys, they put so much work into this.”

Sweden began with a statement of intent in its first game in Moscow, defeating Russia 4-3 despite long spells under pressure against the tournament host. The Red Machine topped the shot count 46-19, but never really recovered from going 0-2 down in the first period.

“We had a good first period and got some goals,” Garpenlov added in a TV interview after the game. “We took a hold of the game, which it felt like we never did in the last tournament. We talked about how we wanted to do that here and we went out to get a rapid return.”

Russia came second in the tournament and put on a grandiose spectacle in Sunday’s game against Finland. But, despite winning 2-0 in front of 67,877 fans at St. Petersburg’s Gazprom Arena in a Winter Classic, there were still questions about Alexei Kudashov’s team after the competition. The Russian media raised concerns about the team’s defensive frailties after the 3-4 loss against Sweden was following by a 3-3 tie against the Czechs. Russia won that in a shootout and tightened up its game to shut out the Finns, only to face renewed criticism for boring hockey that failed to excite the big crowd.

Kudashov, meanwhile, pointed out that games against Finland are traditionally low-scoring affairs. “It was a tough, tight game,” he said. “Against Finland it doesn’t happen any other way. How often have you seen the Finns allow opponents to produce bright, attacking hockey? They have a disciplined team that is strong on defence, especially on the smaller ice. They do not open up and it’s hard to get behind them. You saw it in the World Championship and today was the same. We study the opposition; we look for their weak spots. Today we had a plan to win the game, and we did it.”

Finland took third place in the tournament and drew level with the Czech Republic in the overall Euro Tour standings. The Czechs, meanwhile, followed victory at the Karjala Cup with a fourth-placed result here.

Loeffel makes history with Switzerland

Good omen for 2020 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship host Switzerland as the Swiss national team won their home tournament of the December International Break in convincing fashion. It was their second tournament win in just over a month after having claimed the Deutschland Cup in November.

Swiss defenceman Romain Loeffel scored four goals in his country’s 8-2 victory over Russia ‘B’ at the NaturEnergie Challenge in Visp. The 28-year-old became only the second man ever to score four for the Swiss in the modern era, following Felix Hollenstein’s haul in a 20-1 victory over China in 1994. Loeffel is the first blue liner to hit four in one game for the Swiss.

“I had no idea these were so historic,” he said after the game. “I was mostly just happy for the team that we put on such a great performance. And of course it’s great to score four goals. I’ll keep my stick and the pucks that I scored with in a place of honour when I get them home.”

Switzerland’s emphatic victory in that game followed a 5-0 semi-final win over Norway as the host nation topped the table in this mini-tournament. Simon Moser scored twice against the Norwegians, while Enzo Corvi had three assists.

Russia started the tournament with a shootout win over Slovakia, recovering from 0-2 to tie it 2-2 in regulation. Norway defeated the Slovaks 4-1 for third place

Back-to-back wins for Belarus

In the Hungarian capital of Budapest, Belarus came out on top in a six-team tournament within the Euro Challenge framework. The Belarusians defeated France 3-2 in the gold-medal game after topping its group ahead of Korea and Ukraine.

Head coach Mikhail Zakharov admitted that he could not remember the last time Belarus won two tournaments in a row. Earlier this season Belarus won in Liepaja, Latvia. “Last year, we lost every tournament we played,” he said. “In recent years, we’ve found it tough to win even one tournament in the Euro Challenge, never mind two.”

Zakharov also noted that he had a more experienced and skilled roster in Hungary. Andrei Kostitsyn was a key player, scoring twice in the final against France, while Nick Bailen had two assists in the same game.

However, there was a curious conclusion to the group stage meeting between Belarus and Ukraine. In the 43rd minute, an injury to Ukrainian goalie Bogdan Dyachenko meant the game had to be halted. The starting netminder, Oleg Petrov, had been injured earlier in proceedings and there was nobody else available to see out the rest of the play. Belarus was leading 4-1 at the time and was awarded the victory by that scoreline.

Korea took third place thanks to a 5-2 win over Japan in the bronze-medal game. Hungary got the better of Ukraine in the placement match-up.

Division I countries test for April

Slovenia and France both played at the tournament in Liepaja and will meet again at the 2020 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship Division I Group A in Slovenia

By Henrik Manninen – IIHF.com

Most of the teams that will compete in the 2020 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship Division I Group A took part in the November international break to test their players and systems.

Belarus and Norway back on top

In the Baltic coastal town of Liepaja, Latvia hosted a four-team tournament with games against Belarus, France and Slovenia.

In what became a fiercely competitive contest, Belarus occupied last place ahead of the final round of games. Having earlier defeated France 4-2 and then lost to Slovenia, Belarus still had a chance to climb up to top spot by beating the hosts in the final game of the tournament.

Mikhail Stefanovich led the way with scoring a hat trick against as Belarus surged three goals up. Despite Latvia replying thanks to Miks Indrasis and 20-year-old Sandis Smons, Belarus held out for a fine win 3-2.

Meanwhile in the outskirts of Norway’s capital Oslo, the hosts took on Austria and Denmark. Norway finished top of the standings with 11 out of 24 players on their roster played for a domestic club.

Emphatically outshooting Austria 31-12, Norway came back from a goal down to win 3-1. In their Nordic encounter against Denmark, all six goals in the game were scored in the middle frame as Norway prevailed 4-2 in front of 1,908 onlookers in Lorenskog.

Hungary victorious

Despite opening with a defeat, Hungary sneaked past Italy on the final day to finish top in Poland´s Gdansk. 

Csanad Erdely had put Hungary 3-1 up in the final frame against Italy, before the top-seeds got into gear as the Magyars lost in overtime to a Marko Insam goal. 

But Jarmo Tolvanen’s Hungary bounced straight back in their next game to beat Japan 3-2 before silencing the home crowd in Gdansk as Poland was blanked 2-0 in their final game. Hungary could celebrate top spot after Japan outpaced a lacklustre Italy 4-1 for the morale-boosting victory for Hungary’s youthful roster. 

Poland and Japan met in Gdansk and will meet again in April when Poland will host the 2020 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship Division I Group B in Katowice

Poland, which will host the Division IB in Katowice in less than half a year, finished in third place by beating Division IB rival Japan 3-2.

In Estonia’s capital Tallinn, Latvia B beat Ukraine 3-2 in the final to win the Baltic Challenge Cup. Estonia, Kazakhstan U20, Latvia B, Lithuania, Romania and Ukraine took part.

Latvia B, with a roster solely made up of players from their domestic championship, had first beaten Kazakhstan 5-2 and Romania 5-3 to win a place in the final against Ukraine. In the match for top spot, Maris Dilevka scored a brace for Latvia B and also had an assist for Karlis Ozolins´ goal.

Deutschland Cup success for Switzerland

Pius Suter was the scoring leader for the Swiss at the Deutschland Cup

By Henrik Manninen – IIHF.com

In a season culminating with hosting the 2020 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championships in Zurich and Lausanne, Switzerland got its international season off to a winning start in dramatic fashion. The Alp nation claimed their third win in Deutschland Cup with previous top place finishes arriving in 2001 and 2007.

Heading into the final round of games, Germany clung on to hopes of getting their hands on their first Deutschland Cup title since 2015. In the final game, they first needed Switzerland to slip up against Russia’s second team, before gunning for glory against Slovakia in the final game of the tournament played in Krefeld.

Switzerland’s young team had first convincingly seen off Slovakia 5-2 in their opener as seven newcomers were fielded. Against Germany, they silenced an enthusiastic home crowd of 6,217, when tournament top scorer Pius Suter netted the game-winning 4-3 goal with one second remaining of overtime. Against Russia B, Alessio Bertaggia’s power-play goal with 13:48 left of the third period appeared to put the Swiss back in control, but Ivan Igumnov tied the game at 3-3 with less than three minutes of regular time play. Artyom Galimov then scored the winning penalty shot for last season’s Deutschland Cup winners Russia B, who eventually had to settle for third place.

But all was not yet for the Swiss. Following the game first from the stands and later at the airport, they needed Slovakia to get a point of Germany in their closing game.

Germany´s Andreas Eder scored a brace to put the hosts in front with a two-goal cushion before the home fans watched with disbelief as Slovakia rallied back with Filip Krivosik’s tying the game to push the game into overtime. With any chance of Germany tournament victory now gone, Peter Zuzin piled on the misery scoring for the Slovaks 2:08 into overtime to win 3-2.

 

Karjala win for Czechs

Jakub Krejcik scored the Czechs’ game-winning goal against Finland

By Henrik Manninen – IIHF.com

Three teams were in contention for top spot ahead of the final round of matches of the Karjala Tournament played in Helsinki. The Czechs were leading the pack with five points. Finland was breathing down their neck with four points while Russia had two points on board.

In the end, it was Milos Riha’s men who were worthy winners as they went undefeated throughout the tournament. The Czechs set the tone with a fine 3-1 opening day win against Sweden. Penalty shots downed the Finns 3-2 in their second game before blanking Russia 3-0 to claim their second Karjala Tournament win.

In their decider against Russia it was influential team captain Jan Kovar who put the Czechs ahead at 10:32. Lukas Sedlak scored his first international goal to double the lead with 8:56 left of the final frame before Andrej Nestrasil finished off the scoring 15 seconds before the end.

In their Karjala Tournament opener, the Czechs got off to a flying start in Swedish city Leksand where they took on Tre Kronor. Winning the shots 17-6 in a second period, Dmitrij Jaskin broke the deadlock assisted by the immense Jakub Krejcik after 24:48.

Despite Sweden’s Mikael Wikstrand tying the game in front of a crowd of 5,078, Kovar got the Czechs back into the lead on the power play, before Michal Repik hit the nail in the coffin with an empty netter.

Moving across the Baltic Sea to Finland, the Czechs continued their winning streak in Helsinki against reigning World Champions. The Czechs showed great determination when coming twice from behind with Tomas Filippi tying the game with around a minute left of ordinary time with Marek Langhamer pulled from the net. With the winner of the tight contest decided by penalty shots, it was Karpat Oulu’s blueliner Krejcik, who became the unexpected hero when converting for the Czechs.

Finland had opened the Karjala Tournament in jubilant mood, first with a banner raised to the rafters celebrating its World Championship win in May before defeating Russia thanks to Harri Pesonen’s 5-4 winner. Leijonat finished second in the competition following a morale-boosting final day win against neighbours Sweden, 2-1. Mikko Lehtonen opened the scoring in the first period, before Teemu Turunen fed Miro Aaltonen to convert on the powerplay in the second frame.

Russia finished third under new head coach Alexei Kudashov, while another assistant coach stepping up to the role as head coach, Johan Garpenlov will have to wait for his first win as Sweden finished fourth with a paltry point.

Lionesses top of Europe

Petra Nieminen was the tournament’s scoring leader and scored twice in Finland’s win in the deciding game against Russia

By Martin Merk – IIHF.com

The Finnish women’s national team cemented its position as top European team when Finland hosted the first tournament of the Euro Hockey Tour in Vierumaki, Kerava and Mikkeli. All games ended with happy faces for the host nation.

“Overall, this was a good week for us,” captain Jenni Hiirikoski told leijonat.fi. “There were many games, there were new girls involved and every game turned out to be a win. It’s tough to achieve.”

The key win came on the last day against its closest follower Russia. Despite being outshot 28-18, Finland won 4-2 with two goals from Petra Nieminen. With five goals and two assists Nieminen was the scoring leader of the tournament. Defender Hiirikoski also had seven points.

“Both of our goaltenders played a really good week,” Hiirikoski said and also praised the fruitful power play. Meeri Raisanen had a 97.4% save percentage, her teammate Eveliina Suonpaa was third with 92.0%, with Japan’s Nana Fujimoto (94.9%) in between.

For Finland it was the first tournament on home ice since the successful hosting of the 2019 IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship where the lionesses came to historic heights with a silver-medal finish. It’s also a season that will see new players making their Women’s Worlds debut at the 2020 IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship in Halifax and Truro, Canada, since Venla Hovi, Riikka Sallinen and Linda Valimaki ended their careers.

Defenders Sini Karjalainen (20), Aino Karppinen (21), Sanni Rantala (17); and forwards Ida Kuoppala (19), Julia Liikala (18), Matilda Nilsson (22), Jenniina Nylund (20) and Emilia Vesa (18) were the eight rookies on the 24-player roster who have never played for the senior team at the Women’s Worlds or Olympics before.

Head coach Pasi Mustonen praised the young team while not hiding that there’s still work ahead as they are just at the beginning of their journey. This was shown in the tight game with Russia.

“We have young players who only know one direction – offence. It is understandable that they are not fully able to read the game yet. 5-on-5 Russia was clearly better than us. We won the game because [our goaltender] Eveliina Suonpaa kept us in the game and our power play, which has been excellent all week, was once again effective,” Mustonen said after the last game.

The tournament needed some reshuffling after Sweden cancelled its participation due to disagreements between the federation and the players about compensations and other issues that are now being discussed. Good news was announced on Friday with the Swedish Ice Hockey Association and the (men’s) Swedish Hockey League to invest SEK 400,000 (€43,000) a year for the compensation for loss of earnings when players join the national team camps with additional money for the development of elite women’s ice hockey coming from the association.

The tournament continued with host Finland, the Czech Republic and Russia as European teams as well as Japan with each team having four games counting to the standings. Finland played against its Russian neighbors twice and had earlier won the first game 3-0 while also beating the Czech Republic (9-2) and Japan (3-1).

Russia finished the tournament in second place. While they couldn’t overcome Finland, they beat both Japan (2-0) and the Czech Republic (6-1) in the other games.

Japan was third with its only two victories against winless Czech Republic, 2-0 and 6-3. Hanae Kubo became the best non-Finnish scorer of the tournament with two goals and two assists.

The Czechs finished the tournament in last place without points and a 6-23 goal record. It was an under performing week for them after the 6th-place finish at the recent Women’s Worlds where the Czechs had beaten Japan 3-1.

Finland’s Meeri Raisanen and Jenni Hiirikoski won the individual awards as best goaltender and defender respectively, Russia’s Olga Sosina was voted best forward.

The next tournaments will happen during the November international break where Sweden is scheduled to host Canada, Finland and the United States for a Four Nations Tournament in Lulea, 5-9 November. The same week Russia will host the Czech Republic, Germany and Switzerland in Dmitrov in the Moscow Region.

Lionesses top of Europe

Petra Nieminen was the tournament’s scoring leader and scored twice in Finland’s win in the deciding game against Russia

By Martin Merk – IIHF.com

The Finnish women’s national team cemented its position as top European team when Finland hosted the first tournament of the Euro Hockey Tour in Vierumaki, Kerava and Mikkeli. All games ended with happy faces for the host nation.

“Overall, this was a good week for us,” captain Jenni Hiirikoski told leijonat.fi. “There were many games, there were new girls involved and every game turned out to be a win. It’s tough to achieve.”

The key win came on the last day against its closest follower Russia. Despite being outshot 28-18, Finland won 4-2 with two goals from Petra Nieminen. With five goals and two assists Nieminen was the scoring leader of the tournament. Defender Hiirikoski also had seven points.

“Both of our goaltenders played a really good week,” Hiirikoski said and also praised the fruitful power play. Meeri Raisanen had a 97.4% save percentage, her teammate Eveliina Suonpaa was third with 92.0%, with Japan’s Nana Fujimoto (94.9%) in between.

For Finland it was the first tournament on home ice since the successful hosting of the 2019 IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship where the lionesses came to historic heights with a silver-medal finish. It’s also a season that will see new players making their Women’s Worlds debut at the 2020 IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship in Halifax and Truro, Canada, since Venla Hovi, Riikka Sallinen and Linda Valimaki ended their careers.

Defenders Sini Karjalainen (20), Aino Karppinen (21), Sanni Rantala (17); and forwards Ida Kuoppala (19), Julia Liikala (18), Matilda Nilsson (22), Jenniina Nylund (20) and Emilia Vesa (18) were the eight rookies on the 24-player roster who have never played for the senior team at the Women’s Worlds or Olympics before.

Head coach Pasi Mustonen praised the young team while not hiding that there’s still work ahead as they are just at the beginning of their journey. This was shown in the tight game with Russia.

“We have young players who only know one direction – offence. It is understandable that they are not fully able to read the game yet. 5-on-5 Russia was clearly better than us. We won the game because [our goaltender] Eveliina Suonpaa kept us in the game and our power play, which has been excellent all week, was once again effective,” Mustonen said after the last game.

The tournament needed some reshuffling after Sweden cancelled its participation due to disagreements between the federation and the players about compensations and other issues that are now being discussed. Good news was announced on Friday with the Swedish Ice Hockey Association and the (men’s) Swedish Hockey League to invest SEK 400,000 (€43,000) a year for the compensation for loss of earnings when players join the national team camps with additional money for the development of elite women’s ice hockey coming from the association.

The tournament continued with host Finland, the Czech Republic and Russia as European teams as well as Japan with each team having four games counting to the standings. Finland played against its Russian neighbors twice and had earlier won the first game 3-0 while also beating the Czech Republic (9-2) and Japan (3-1).

Russia finished the tournament in second place. While they couldn’t overcome Finland, they beat both Japan (2-0) and the Czech Republic (6-1) in the other games.

Japan was third with its only two victories against winless Czech Republic, 2-0 and 6-3. Hanae Kubo became the best non-Finnish scorer of the tournament with two goals and two assists.

The Czechs finished the tournament in last place without points and a 6-23 goal record. It was an under performing week for them after the 6th-place finish at the recent Women’s Worlds where the Czechs had beaten Japan 3-1.

Finland’s Meeri Raisanen and Jenni Hiirikoski won the individual awards as best goaltender and defender respectively, Russia’s Olga Sosina was voted best forward.

The next tournaments will happen during the November international break where Sweden is scheduled to host Canada, Finland and the United States for a Four Nations Tournament in Lulea, 5-9 November. The same week Russia will host the Czech Republic, Germany and Switzerland in Dmitrov in the Moscow Region.

Russia tops the charts in Perm

Grigori Denisenko (left), who was named best forward of the tournament, and Kirill Marchenko (right) helped Russia win the tournament on home ice in Perm

By Andy Potts – IIHF.com

Russia’s juniors came out on top in the first U20 Four Nations’ tournament of the season in Perm. The young Red Machine edged in front of the Czech Republic after both teams finished on six points. Russia topped the table by virtue of its opening 4-1 victory over the Czechs, who came second after wins against Finland and Sweden. The Finns secured third place with a 4-2 win against Russia on the last day, while Sweden’s solitary point arrived in an overtime loss against its Nordic neighbour.

The first game of the contest proved to be decisive. Russia’s win over the Czechs tipped the balance in the tie break. The victory owed much to the revived combination of Pavel Dorofeyev, Grigori Denisenko and Ivan Morozov, which had a hand in three of the goals. The trio represent different KHL organisations – Magnitogorsk, Yaroslavl and St. Petersburg respectively – but have often played together at different age groups within the national program in Russia.

“We played all three games on a single line,” Dorofeyev told FHR.ru. “I’ve played with them since we were kids so we can do a lot together. Of course, it’s good to get back to playing with them again after a bit of a break.”

Russia’s second game was a tight affair. Maxim Sorkin’s first-period goal was enough to beat Sweden 1-0 and the CSKA prospect admitted his team made hard work of seeing off the Swedes.

“In the first two periods we couldn’t wake up, our game didn’t flow, the puck wouldn’t go to the stick,” he said. “It was only in the third period that we played more or less OK. Luckily we got a goal in the first period, albeit a bit of a freakish one, and managed to close out the win.”

That result ensured that Russia would top the group regardless of the outcome against Finland and the final gameday saw the host nation defeated 2-4 by the Finnish lions. For head coach Valeri Bragin, who went into the tournament talking about the need for many emerging players to prove themselves at the start of the selection process for this season’s IIHF World Junior Championship in the Czech Republic, it was a somewhat frustrating finish to an encouraging competition.

“The most important thing is that we won [the tournament],” he said. “We played well, including against Finland where we had two very good periods. We tried to play aggressive, attacking hockey but our finishing let us down a little in the end, plus we allowed some soft goals at the other end.

“As far as the roster is concerned, we’ll need to analyse that more closely. Nobody dropped out of contention. Sure, some players were a bit brighter than others but, on the whole, the team was fairly even.”

The individual awards saw Daniel Dvorak (CZE) take the best goalie prize, Santeri Hatakka (FIN) claim best D-man and Grigori Denisenko (RUS) named best forward. Samuel Salonen (FIN) was the leading scorer in the competition. Dvorak, a 19-year-old from Hradec Kralove, was the Czech man-of-the-match against Russia, where his 27 saves kept his team in the game for long periods. He also played in the win over Sweden that secured second place and established himself as a serious challenger to Lukas Dostal for the #1 role on the Czech Junior roster.

Russia’s decision to stage the tournament in Perm, a city in the Northern Urals often described as the Easternmost in Europe, was a new departure. The local team, Molot-Prikamie, has not played in the Russian top league since 2005/06 and the 6,000-seater Molot Arena rarely sees international stars, past, present or future. The games were taken here as part of the Russian Hockey Federation’s efforts to broaden the geographical spread of hockey across the country, and the initiative got the thumbs up from the players.

“It was a good set-up for us here,” said Denisenko. “The fans really got behind us, it was like having a sixth skater on the ice. To be honest, I didn’t expect such an enthusiastic audience for hockey here.”

Head coach Bragin added: “The whole tournament was played in a great atmosphere. We made sure that people in this region could fall in love with hockey and I’m glad we came to play here. I hope we managed to entertain the fans. I’d like to say a big thank to everyone for the lively support we had in the arena. It was like a breath of fresh air, and it gave our players strength.”

Russia wins Euro Hockey Tour

By Henrik Lundqvist – Eurohockey.com

Russia won the Euro Hockey Tour 2018-19. The top spot of the combined standings of the four EHT tournaments was secured already before today’s 4-1 win over Czech Republic.

After two poor games with losses to Sweden and Finland Russia finally got ends to meet and beat the Czech home team 4-1 in Brno.

Tonight it was the line with Yevgeny Kuznetsov (2+2), Alexander Ovechkin (0+3) and Kirill Kaprizov (1+1) that made the difference. and Andrei Vasilevsky in te Russian net made 23 saves.

The World Championship starts on Friday in Slovakia. Russia will play Norway on the opening day while Czech Republic will play Sweden.

Total EHT 2018/19

# Club G W W-OT L-OT L Score P
1 Russia 12 6 2 0 4 41:37 22
2 Finland 12 5 1 2 4 27:28 19
3 Sweden 12 5 0 2 5 29:37 17
4 Czech Republic 12 4 1 0 7 30:34 14

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