Russia (0-0-0-0) @ Czech Republic (0-0-0-0)
It’s time for Russia to prove themselves, it’s the beginning of the 2020 IIHF World Junior Championships and they will be facing the home nation on opening day. This could be a sneaky difficult game for the Russians as the Czech Republic always play them close. Combine that with a rambunctious home crowd and it could be an upset in the making before the tournament even really gets started for the Russians. It’s important that Russia beats the Czech Republic, with Canada and the USA in a back-to-back scenario after, the Russians could find themselves in fourth place quickly if they don’t get off to a good start.
Askarov gets the start for the Russians, becoming only the 4th U18 to start a game for Russia. Andrei Vasilevskiy, Semyon Varlamov and Andrei Medvedev, were the others. He will be staring down Lukas Dostal, a returning goaltender for the Czech Republic who almost pushed his team by the USA last year in the elimination round.
As usual, fast pace to start the game, unfortunately only a minute into the game Jakub Lauko, one of the Czech’s best forwards gets in an awkward collision at center ice and would leave the game with a leg injury.
The host nation the Czech Republic would get the first really good chance of the game as Anton, Malyshev would take a high sticking penalty 2:25 into the first period. They would make Russia pay as only 10 seconds into the powerplay as Simon Kubicek would send one over Askarov’s shoulders giving the Czechs’ a 1-0 lead.
A turnover in the offensive zone by Russia leads to a 2-on-1 the other way for the Czechs’, Jan Mysak carries the whole way and roofs it on Askarov, giving the Czechs’ a 2-0 lead 8 minutes into the first period.
As soon as the first powerplay of the game expires for the Russians, Calgary Hitmen defenseman Yegor Zamula sends a wrister through the crowd, that gets past Dostal as the Russians cut the lead in half. Back and forth game we have here in Ostrava as the Russians would draw even, one second after their powerplay expires as Vasili Podkolzin gets his first of the tournament. Erasing the early 2-0 deficit the Russians put themselves in and tying the game.
That’s how we would end the first period, tied at 2 in a period dominated by Russia despite going down 2-0 early.
Despite the first five minutes of this period being dominated by the Russians, the Czech Republic strikes first in the period as Ondrej Pavel goes blocker side on Askarov who has really been struggling with his angles this game. Russia didn’t take long to respond however as Yegor Zamula pots his second of the game, tying the game shortly after the Czechs took the lead.
Noticeable in this period is Russias’ relentless pressure on the puck, they are forechecking, backchecking and just overall out skating the Czechs.
4 seconds into a 5-on-3 due to bad discipline from the Russians, Jan Jenik walks into the slot and goes glove side on Askarov, that’s the third glove-side goal on Askarov this game, something possible to keep a note of. The Czechs take the lead into the second intermission despite being outplayed once again by the Russians.
At the start of the third period, Askarov has been pulled in favor of Amir Miftakhov. It’s not uncommon for the Russians to quickly pull their goaltenders, however, Askarov really hasn’t been good this game, his glove side has looked extremely weak.
The Czech Republic is simply holding on, icing the puck repeatedly and trying to kill the play whenever the puck goes along the boards. It’s a dangerous way to play, however with 4 minutes left in the game. Russia would take a minor penalty, sending them on the penalty kill and still trailing.
Another penalty, a boarding penalty in which under IIHF rules is a two-minute minor plus 10-minute misconduct, gives a chance for the Czechs to seal the game with 1:33 of 5-on-3 but they were unable to score.
Despite being heavily outplayed, the Czech Republic hold on and beat the Russians 4-3 in the tournament opener.
Powerplay and Shots
0/6 PP2/8 PP
36 shots22 shots
Players of the Game
– Yegor Zamula
– Jan Mysak
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Photo Credit: Gord Miller/TSN