Andy Potts Andy Potts
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A big victory over Finland sealed another unbeaten tournament for the Red Machine and secured the Channel 1 Cup in Moscow. Earlier in the day, the Czech Republic beat Sweden 4-1 to record its first win of the competition.

Voronkov double leads Russia to victory

Russia 5 Finland 1 (1-0, 2-1, 2-0)

Russia cruised to first place in the Channel 1 Cup, producing an emphatic 5-1 victory over Finland in Moscow. That wrapped up a thoroughly satisfying tournament for Valery Bragin and his team, with the host winning all three games and remaining undefeated throughout the 2020/21 Euro Hockey Tour.

Photo: 20.12.20. Eurohockey tour 2020-2021. First channel cup. Russia - Finland

Bragin rested a couple of his SKA forwards. Vladimir Tkachyov, who did not feature at all in the third period of yesterday’s 4-1 win over the Czechs, missed out, as did Anton Burdasov just a day after scoring his first international goal. Young Kirill Marchenko came into the team and there was a return for Yegor Korshkov.

Russia dominated the action from the start and was good value for its opening goal in the 14th minute. Captain Vadim Shipachyov broke the deadlock, exchanging passes with Yegor Yakovlev before firing a one-timer to the top corner. That was goal number 2,500 in Team Russia’s history.

The second session began with the Red Machine continuing to press. Maxim Mamin, who scored twice against the Czechs yesterday, had an early chance before helping Dmitry Voronkov to score his first international goal in the 24th minute. Straight after Russia’s second, the Finns had the puck in the net after an Arttu Ilomaki shot. However, the goal was ruled out when the video review showed that Harri Pesonen had barged goalie Alexander Samonov out of the way.

Pesonen, recently of Metallurg, did eventually get on the scoresheet when he cashed in on an error by Andrei Chibisov, but before that Voronkov got his second of the game when he beat Juho Olkinuora at the second attempt midway through the game.

After that Pesonen goal, Finland finished the second period strongly but was unable to close the gap any further. In the third, Russia was content to soak up the pressure from the visitor and Finnish frustrations increased when the first penalties of the game forced them onto the back foot midway through the period. Two late goals completed the home triumph. First, Pavel Karnaukhov scored a short-handed goal into an empty net to crush any hope of a Finnish fightback and record his first international marker. Then, in the last seconds, Andrei Kuzmenko steered Nikita Soshnikov’s feed into the net to make it three goals in three games for the SKA forward. That helped Kuzmenko get the nod as the top forward at the tournament, with goalie Alexander Samonov and defenseman Yegor Yakovlev also picking up individual awards.

Valery Bragin, head coach, Russia

‘Of course there’s a greater sense of responsibility playing our home tournament. But I know practically all of these players and we had a good working atmosphere. We got to see our candidates for the World Championship at work and I was happy with most of the players. In the third game we got closer to the kind of hockey we want to see from the team.

‘Different clubs have different tactics, but we want to play aggressive, attacking hockey. We couldn’t do that overnight, but by the third game a lot of it was working out for us. ‘We’re in regular contact with Igor Larionov and I wish our juniors all the best. They have a good chance of winning the World Championship this season. Like I said, we’re in regular contact, we have a lot of conversations and discussions.’ Andrei Kuzmenko, forward, Team Russia

‘If I keep finishing the chances, my team-mates keep creating them. That pushes me further to keep on working and progressing. All our players are leaders, there’s no sense that somebody has to take on more for himself. All four lines are playing to win. We go out each time and work. Today we scored some good goals, we didn’t look bad on defense and Samonov made some big saves.

‘I think that first game against Sweden was the most intense. There was a lot of emotion, not least because it was my father’s birthday and I really wanted to score for him. I can’t say what might happen tomorrow, I’m not even thinking about the World Championship. I need to keep working and improving, it’s far too early to be thinking about May or June.’

Maxim Mamin, forward, Team Russia

‘We won all three games, we did what we were asked to do and almost everything came off for us. Against Finland, of course, it was hard work, physically, but the guys put the work in and got the result. It’s great that our line got some goals today. I like playing with Voronkov: he’s a hard worker, he’s great in front of the net and I think there’s a lot to come from him.’

Czechs sign off with a win

Czech Republic 4 Sweden 1 (0-1, 3-0, 1-0)

A strong second period from the Czechs saw Filip Pesan’s team record its first victory in Moscow. After trailing to Sweden at the first intermission, the Czechs turned it around with three unanswered goals in the middle frame.

The Tre Kronor came into the game knowing that a win would give it a real chance of winning the Channel 1 Cup. That chance was boosted as the Czechs ran into penalty trouble in the first period. Twice, Sweden enjoyed a 5-on-3 advantage and the pressure paid off when Jonatan Berggren opened the scoring in the 13th minute.

After that, though, the Czechs cleaned up their act and Anders Lindback found himself the busier of the two goalies. Five minutes into the second period, Radan Lenc tied the game and an unfortunate deflection off Klas Dahlbeck saw Matej Blummel’s shot give the Czech Republic the lead. Another deflected shot, this time from Daniel Gazda, extended the advantage before the second intermission. Defenseman Pavel Pycha added a fourth late in the game as his team finished the tournament on a high note.

Andy Potts Andy Potts
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