ALMATY, Kazakhstan – Russia beat host Kazakhstan 1-0 in the gold medal game of the 2017 Winter Universiade’s men’s ice hockey tournament while Canada claimed the bronze medals against the Czech Republic. It was the second hockey gold medal at the event after winning the women’s ice hockey tournament.
Prior to the start of the 28th World Winter Universiade, both finalists were considered to be contenders of this ice hockey tournament. At the previous Winter Universiade in 2015, in Granada, Spain, Russia and Kazakhstan also made it to the final with Russia beating Kazakhstan 3:1. This time we saw a repeat, although the score was different.
In the first period, the host team dominated the ice and created many opportunities but all were stopped by some stellar goaltending of Russian goalie Ilya Andryukhov. Having some extra momentum due to a number of power plays, even a 5-3 situation, the Kazakhs could not score. Sergei Kudryavtsev, the Kazakhstan goaltender, had plenty of work too. In the second period he was constantly torpedoed by the Russians. The ‘Red Machine’ constantly attacked the Kazakh goal.
In the second period, Russia gradually took over the game pushing the host team in a more defensive role. However, the Kazakhs managed to successfully defend their goal.
And then it happened. Right at the beginning of the third period, after 92 seconds, Danil Ilin netted the puck for Russia. After the goal, Russia closed ranks and Kazakhstan had difficulties to penetrate the Russian wall.
Two minutes before the end of the game, Kazakhstan coach Sergei Starygin pulled his goalie for a sixth player. However, the Russian team kept the pressure on and nearly scored an empty netter. While the clock kept ticking towards the end buzzer, the Russians played it cool and pocketed the gold, leaving silver for host team Kazakhstan. Final score: 0:1 (0:0, 0:0, 0:1).
Canada claims bronze
In the bronze medal game, Canada and the Czech Republic played a very tight match, a genuine thriller. Although Canada led 3-1 after 20 minutes, the Czechs built up their game which resulted in a 4-3 after two periods, and the Canadians were hanging on for dear life in the third. Canadian goalie Sebastien Auger had to make a number of key stops in the third as the Czechs were desperately looking for the equalizer, including back-to-back incredible pad saves four minutes in.
Canada was caught with too many men on the ice with 7:18 remaining but managed to weather the ensuing Czech storms. The Canadians thought they had put the game away in the final minute but had an empty-net goal disallowed when the linesman made a close offside call. In the end, the call didn’t hurt the Canadians, who froze the puck along the board in their own zone in the final seconds to seal the victory and claiming the bronze. Final score: 4-3 (3-1; 1-2; 0-0).
CHRISTIAN PIERRE, FISU