Saturday’s program in Bratislava kicks off with Russia, unbeaten in four games, taking on a Latvian team in desperate need of victory. After seeing a 2-0 lead turn into a 3-6 loss against the Czechs on Thursday, Bob Hartley admitted that his team now had no choice but to beat Russia and Switzerland if it was to reach the quarter-finals for the second successive championship.

Ilya Vorobyov responded after Russia’s practice on Friday morning. “We read the interview, we know all about it,” he said. “But for us, this was an important game even before yesterday. The next game is always the most important.”

Vorobyov added that Andrei Vasilevsky would continue in goal and that Ivan Telegin would take the place of CSKA team-mate Kirill Kaprizov on the Russian roster for Saturday’s early game.

On the ice

The Czech Republic drew level with Russia and Switzerland on 12 points after thrashing Italy 8-0. However, the Czechs have played one game more.

The latest one-sided defeat for Italy featured a goal from centre ice scored by Radko Gudas, plus a four-point (2+2) return for Michael Frolik. Omsk-born Dmitrij Jaskin got 2+1 and Jan Kovar was on the scoresheet again as Milos Riha’s team went goal crazy in front of a big travelling Czech support.

Photo: 17.05.19. 2019 IIHF World Championship. Czech republic - Italy

Michal Repik of Vityaz collected two assists, as did Jakub Voracek. He’s now up to 10 (2+8) points for the tournament, tied with Nikita Kucherov and William Nylander in the scoring race.

Norway picked up its first victory with a 5-3 success over Austria. The Austrians remain winless and it’s looking increasingly likely the game against Italy will determine which nation stays in the Elite Pool. Christian Bull’s hat-trick led the Norwegian scoring, with two points from Alexander Reichenberg helping the team over the line.

Team captain Jonas Holos was happier with the result than the performance: “It's a big win, but I don't think we played our best game today,” he told IIHF.com. “Still, every time they scored, we came back and scored another goal. We showed strength and we worked hard. Our work ethic is really good. That's what we have to keep on doing.”

There was relief for Slovakia in Group A. A 6-3 win over France snapped a three-game losing run and kept the host nation’s quarter-final hopes alive. Matus Sukel and Michal Cajkovsky were among the home scorers.

Jokerit’s Veli-Matti Savinainen picked up two assists in Finland’s 5-0 victory over Great Britain. After a goalless opening frame, the Finns scored three in the second period to take control. Former Jokerit and Ak Bars defenseman Atte Ohtamaa was among the scorers, Dynamo Moscow’s Miika Koivisto also collected an assist.

Andy Potts Andy Potts
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