The Russian youth hockey team began the second half of the Super Series with a victory, beating the Ontario League (OHL) hockey players in the fourth match of the competition. Thus, the wards of Valery Bragin were able to rehabilitate for two consecutive defeats and restore parity in the confrontation with the Canadian teams.
The national team received three days of rest, which helped the players not only regain strength, but also prepared accordingly for the return match with hockey players from Ontario. The first three meetings of the Super Series were held from November 5 to 8, which could not but affect the physical condition of the Russians, especially taking into account the move and flight in front of them.
Perhaps it was with this that two consecutive defeats were connected, the last of which became quite sensitive. So, the first game with OHL ended with a score of 4: 1 in favor of the students of Dale Hunter.
It is worth noting that the rival of the Russian team was a powerful team, which included several favorites of the future NHL draft. So, the talented center forwards Quinton Byfield and Cole Perfetti, as well as promising defender Jamie Draysdale, play for OHL. Despite this, Bragin's wards fought on equal terms with opponents and inflicted only seven less shots on goal, but this evening they were let down by accuracy.
“The fact that only one goal was scored is a matter of implementation and skill level. If an athlete has a moment and he does not score, then something is missing in the final stage. We need to work and develop game qualities, ”Bragin quotes the press service of the Russian Hockey Federation (FHR).
In addition, the mentor drew attention to the difference in the physical readiness of both teams.
“Today we had a fresh adversary, full of strength. We played two difficult meetings, it was the fifth day of acclimatization. From the guys it was felt that they were heavy ... But just in this situation it is interesting to look at the athletes when the physical condition is imperfect. Some other qualities are already showing up here, ”said Bragin.
For the Russians, the return meeting with peers from OHL did not start very well. Canadians again looked more confident on the ice and threw more, and in the 14th minute for the first time goalkeeper Amir Miftakhov was forced to capitulate. Cole Perfetti elegantly placed the goalkeeper on the ice, but instead of a throw he performed a transfer, which nearly ruined the attack. Fortunately for North Americans, the puck bounced to the blue line, Ryan Merkley sent it with a sweeping click towards the goal, and Connor McMichael on the nickel sent the shell to the net.
Subsequently, the position of the Russian team could become even more deplorable. Until the end of the second period, domestic hockey players were thrice in the minority, but opponents could not take advantage of this. Much of the reason for this was the inspired performance of Miftakhov, who repeatedly helped out partners.
The main events occurred in the final 20-minute. Rodion Amirov played great in finishing off after a solo pass by Vasily Podkolzin and helped the Russian team realize a numerical advantage, but after 109 seconds the Canadians again took the lead. Zakhar Shablovsky made a gross mistake when leaving his zone and lost the puck, but Serron Noel did not flinch.
The key episode occurred in the 50th minute. Although the carelessness of Sergei Telegin two minutes earlier cost Bragin's team removal, the Russians not only survived, but also noted a brilliant counterattack. Nikita Rtishchev threw the puck out of the zone, and Lev Komissarov turned out to be the quickest of all. The forward took advantage of the error of the Canadian defender and easily implemented a one-on-one exit.
🎥 Growing tension, expectation, goals - and a winning shootout. Highlights of the match against the Ontario Junior League team in 3.5 minutes. # Snamrossia pic.twitter.com / fJSQhPtgEr- Russian Hockey (@russiahockey) November 12, 2019
In overtime, the teams could not identify the winner, and the outcome was decided in a series of shootouts. Miftakhov performed brilliantly and managed with three out of four shots, and the Russians did not leave not a single chance to Hunter Jones. Danil Savunov, Maxim Sorkin and Ivan Morozov once left the goalkeeper out of work and brought the Russian team a second victory in the Super Series.
“These three days we spent usefully, prepared. We need to continue to improve our game in the majority. Otherwise, a positive result ... Satisfied with it ... Have thrown three out of three in a shootout? This indicates the level of skill of hockey players. And we constantly train it, always come in handy. Well done, ”said Bragin.
It is noteworthy that until now the coaching staff of the Russian national team has resorted to the rotation of goalkeepers. So, in the first and third matches the place in the “frame” was occupied by Daniil Isaev, and in the second and fourth matches - Amir Miftakhov. Judging by the words of Bragin, it is possible that such a practice will continue in the future.
“Goalkeeper rotation? Let's look at their condition. The decisive matches are ahead, we have equality on points. Goalkeeper coach Vladimir Kulikov will think, ”concluded Bragin.
Miftakhov himself congratulated his partners on the victory and told what helped to achieve success.
“You always have to play to the end. Guys are good fellows. The match was intense ... It was important not to go out, but rather start up, and it worked out. In overtime, one could see how aggressively the guys went to the gate. That missed goal gave us strength. They showed character and pulled out a meeting. He believed in victory, was confident in his abilities and in the team. There was one thing in mind - everything will work out, ”Miftakhov admitted.
The goalkeeper also noted the benefits of a three-day rest and expressed the hope that this success would give strength to the Russian team.
“We had a break, prepared well, had one day off. The condition is excellent. We are all ready - and before the training the guys trained independently according to the programs that they gave us, and in the clubs, then they had a good training, ”Miftakhov added.
In the two final meetings of the Super Series, the Russian team will compete with the team of the Western Hockey League (WHL), which is its second most uncomfortable opponent in the tournament. Since 2003, the teams have held 32 matches among themselves, in 21 of which Canadians prevailed. At the same time, over the past three years, rivals have invariably opened competitions and won once.