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World Under 17 Hockey Challenge


Saturday November 8, 2014


For the second time in three years, Russia has won gold at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge.

The Russians defeated the previously-unbeaten Americans, 2-1 in Saturday evening's championship game at RBC Centre.

It was an intense contest, befitting a tournament final, but in several ways it resembled many of the other games in the tournament -- high tempo and long stretches with no whistles but with few total shots on goal.

Final shots were 22-16 in favour of the U.S.

Playing before perhaps 2,500 fans that were probably slightly, but not overwhelmingly, favouring the Americans, the U.S. came out flying in the first period and nearly scored just two minutes into the game when Kailer Yamamoto hit the post. Gradually, things started to balance out and, ultimately, it was Russia which opened the scoring with two minutes left in the period.

Maxim Bain got the goal, roofing home a shot from in tight against U.S. goalie Jake Oettinger.

The Russians also got the only goal of the second period with Alexander Yakovenko beating Oettinger with a slap shot just past the five minute mark.

The Russian team would maintain the two-goal lead for nearly 35 minutes with goalie Maxim Kalyayev holding down the fort, making several key saves.

However, with just under five minutes left to play in the third, the Russian team took a trio of minor penalties, including one bizarre minor for using an ineligible play.

At 15:10 Pavel Ryzhenkov was called for holding. But the Russian team sent a different player to the penalty box and, just over a minute later, Ryzhenkov was called for a boarding minor and, when it was realized he was supposed to already be in the penalty box, he was given the extra two minute minor.

The U.S. was unable to score on the two-man advantage thanks in part to some fine saves by Kalyayev, as well as the Americans' overpassing and unwillingness to shoot the puck.

With 1:30 left in the period, however, the Americans finally broke through when tournament goal leader (with seven) Max Jones beat Kalyayev with a surprisingly weak goal -- a bad angle shot flicked at the net from along the boards that snuck between Kalyayev's legs as he stood upright in the goal.

The U.S. pulled its goalie for the extra attacker and tried frantically to tie the game in the dying 90 seconds, but the Russians held them off for the victory.

Following the game, Russian coach Vitali Prokhorov said "organization" was the key to his team's win -- and their ability to shut down the high-powered U.S. offense.

"We carefully watched what the U.S. team was doing," in early tournament games, said Prokhorov, through a translator and were able to neutralize their strengths and minimize their scoring opportunities.

After the awards ceremony, the giddy Russian players frolicked on the ice with the championship trophy for about 20 minutes, many of them posing for photos with fans who wandered down to ice level.







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