The enchanted circle: at the start of the MFM Russia beat the USA

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World Youth Hockey Championship kicked off in Edmonton. In the very first meeting of Group B, the main favorites of the tournament – Russia and the USA – met. The Americans are traditionally considered an inconvenient rival for our team, since 2017 it has not been able to beat a principled opponent for five matches in a row. But on the night of December 26, the situation changed. The Russian team interrupted the series of failures, and Igor Larionov won the first official victory in the tournament as head coach (5: 3).

“We had a long series of defeats from the Americans at the youth world championships,” Alexei Badyukov, two-time Gagarin Cup winner, told Izvestia. – In fact, the Russians won the match for the first place in the group. The main thing in this meeting is the result, but then you can continue to search for the game. There is a field for work, for example, playing in the majority. It’s nice that striker Yegor Chinakhov finally scored, albeit into an empty net. The USA national team showed fast hockey, but we showed ourselves and managed to beat our principal rival.

Reconnaissance in force

“It’s very good that we played a friendly match with Canada, and then we play immediately with America. We immediately find ourselves in the epicenter of the expected struggle, ”said Igor Larionov, the mentor of our national team, before the meeting with the USA. The not very successful game against the hosts of the championship (0: 1) was definitely beneficial. Work was done on bugs, a false sense of self-confidence did not appear, and most importantly, the hockey players were able to feel the pace and psychologically liberate themselves a little.

Despite the absence of goals scored in the test match, Igor Larionov did not change anything in the first link. Amirov again played with Khusnutdinov and Podkolzin. Abramov remained out of the application, and Firstova was declared the thirteenth forward. Perhaps many were surprised by this coach’s decision, but it is easy to explain by the fact that Vladislav is well acquainted with American hockey, since he plays in the student league.

The goalkeeper confrontation deserves special attention. Askarov and Knight are the main contenders for the title of the best goalkeeper of the championship in absentia. Today the duel remained with the Russian. Yaroslav boldly acted on the exits, wielded a stick and managed to pull himself together after a mistake on the first goal. But the American could not cope with emotions. This was confirmed by the fourth missed puck. Knight rolled far out of the gate and made a pass exactly to Safonov’s stick, who did not miss his moment. As a result, the US goalkeeper was replaced. Eight out of 12 reflected shots is not at all what American fans expected from Knight.

Despite the difficult situation, the US team was not going to give up. With the score 1: 4, the team produced a powerful third period and managed to close the gap to a minimum.

“After the second period, we told the guys that such an account was the most dangerous,” Igor Larionov said at a press conference. – When you lead in three goals and give your opponent some oxygen, he gets confidence. We will discuss this topic later. Ilya Safonov was sent off, but on the whole we did not fall apart. We continued to be more patient with the puck and won important faceoffs in our area.

Nervousness was felt in the actions of the Russians. I immediately remembered the game in the Czech Republic, when the Americans scored three goals in three minutes and won. Fortunately, the scenario was different this time. The team managed to withstand, and the end of the match was put by Chinakhov, who hit the empty net.

Larionov believes in the top three

Vasily Ponomarev was recognized as the best player in the Russian national team with a double. In general, our team made us happy. The guys were able to minimize the control of the puck by the opponent, and this played a decisive role in the victory. However, the imbalance in the attack is a little alarming. The third and fourth links significantly surpassed the actions of the first two. It is necessary to work on this moment, since at a distance such a feature can play a cruel joke.

“Together with the coaching staff, we tried not to have nominal links,” Igor Larionov continued. – In the match with the Canadians, we started with exactly the three who scored three goals today. We expect such a game from every link. Today I am very happy for these guys. They played brilliantly. It’s nice that we have trump cards that we can use throughout the tournament. What prevents the top three from being effective? What you want to see does not always work out. These guys had a worthy training camp. We see a certain “chemistry” between Khusnutdinov, Amirov and Podkolzin. But we have time to maneuver to see the combinations that were at the Karjala Cup. It is difficult to analyze after the match. It is necessary for the emotions to cool down.

Two more potential leaders of our team – Yegor Chinakhov and Arseniy Gritsyuk – again showed not the best quality game. For example, Chinakhov again failed to implement output one to zero.

“The guys find their game, they act very well,” says Igor Larionov. – We will draw conclusions after the tournament. It takes time to feel the confidence that hockey players need. They will definitely start scoring. They have complete trust from the coaching staff and the guys know it.

In the next match, the Russian national team will play with the Czech team.

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