The final day of Eurotour action in Stockholm saw Russia defeat the Czech Republic 3-1 and secure second place. Two goals from Andrei Kuzmenko made the difference in a clash with the tournament winner. In the other game, Finland claimed a shoot-out verdict over Sweden after a 4-4 tie.
Russia 3 Czech Republic 1 (0-0, 2-1, 1-0)
Russia came from behind to defeat the Czech Republic in Sunday’s final day of Swedish Hockey Games action in Stockholm. The Red Machine’s 3-1 victory was not enough to deny the Czechs top spot in the latest instalment of the Euro Hockey Tour, but it does ensure that Ilya Vorobyov’s team maintains a healthy lead at the top of the overall standings. With three of the four stages of the competition now complete, Russia has 19 points, ahead of second-placed Finland on 13.
However, the victory was not entirely convincing. For the first half of this game, Russia flattered to deceive. The first period brought just eight shots at the Czech net and the second period saw Amur’s Tomas Zohorna open the scoring before Russia finally got into gear.
Andrei Kuzmenko led the way for Russia with two goals. His line, with Andrei Svetlakov and Konstantin Okulov, was posing a notable threat and prompted Vorobyov to give it extra ice time in a bid to pressure the Czechs. That gambit paid off. In the 35th minute, Kuzmenko cancelled out Zohorna’s goal, then he put the Russians in front just before the second intermission. The SKA forward was also involved in a key incident at the start of the third period – his wayward pass allowed the Czechs to launch a counter-attack that ended in a penalty shot at Ilya Konovalov’s net. If the young Loko goalie might want the Czech goal back, he showed his worth by calmly denying Marek Kvapil on this occasion. The Czech were made to rue that wasted opportunity when Alexander Kadeikin added a third Russian goal midway through the final frame.
Ilya Vorobyov, head coach, team Russia
In the latter half of this game we improved. Overall, we got two victories in this tournament and we ran the rule over several new guys. Now we’ll go away and look at all the information we’ve collected. There’s still a long way to go before the World Championship. We’ve got part of the regular season and the whole of the playoffs. After that, we’ll shuffle the pack once again.
Ilya Konovalov, goalie, team Russia
I was already more confident after the first game [against Finland]. The Czechs had already won the tournament, so maybe they weren’t attacking so hard. There were only 13 shots in total. With the penalty save, the important thing is be aware whether the shooter is right or left-handed. And then deal with the situation as it unfolds. You need to stay calm, not get stressed about it. I don’t do anything special about penalty shots, I just need to stop them.
Milos Riha, head coach, team Czech Republic
I think today it was about our mindset. We were 20 per cent less prepared than the last game. In the second period, especially, we did all the things we said we wouldn’t. We didn’t help ourselves and we didn’t have the kind of team spirit that we want.
Sweden 4 Finland 5 SO (1-0, 1-2, 2-2, 0-0, 0-1)
Host nation Sweden went down to a shoot-out loss after a 4-4 tie with Finland in the last game of the competition. The Swedes led twice, but then had to fight back from 2-4 down to level the scores through Emil Bermstrom’s second goal of the game with five minutes left. Overtime could not separate the teams, but Oliver Kaski potted the decisive goal in the shoot-out to give Finland its first win of the tournament.