Switzerland 7 vs. Latvia 2
Tanner Richard, Switzerland, 0-3-3, +2, 0 PIM, 1 SOG
Tournament totals: 1 GP, 0-3-3, +2, 0 PIM
In what should come as no surprise to OHL fans, Lightning prospect Tanner Richard started his tournament with assists in triplicate in Switzerland's 7-2 thumping of Team Latvia. Perhaps more impressively though, Richard's assists came at even strength, shorthanded, and on the power play, respectively, missing the empty netter for a "Lemieux cycle" of assists (no assists can be awarded on a penalty shot, of course). He was also 75% on his draws in the game, as Switzerland dominated the faceoff circles overall. Switzerland faces Sweden next on Friday.
Slovakia 2 vs. Russia 3 (OT)
Nikita Kucherov, Russia, 1-0-1, +1, 0 PIM, 4 SOG
Tournament totals: 1 GP, 1-0-1, +1, 0 PIM
Nikita Nesterov, Russia, 0-1-1, E, 0 PIM, 1 SOG
Tournament totals: 1 GP, 0-1-1, E, 0 PIM
Artem Sergeev, Russia, 0-0-0, -1, 0 PIM, 2 SOG
Tournament totals: 1 GP, 0-0-0, -1, 0 PIM
Andrey Vasilevskiy, Russia, Win, 32/34, 1.85 GAA, .941 sv%
Tournament totals: 1 GP, 1-0-0, 0 SO, 1.85 GAA. .941 sv%
Nikita Nesterov assisted on Albert Yarullin's game winning goal 4:50 into overtime as Russia snuck past Slovakia 3-2. Nesterov has been named an assistant captain for Russia in the tournament. Slovakia forced overtime with a dramatic power play goal with 36 seconds left in regulation by Richard Mraz, but could not finish the comeback in the overtime session. Nikita Kucherov scored the game opening goal for Russia and was second on Team Russia in shots on goal with 4. Goaltender Andrey Vasilevskiy (pictured) was named Russia's player of the game after the match. Russia plays Team USA next on Friday.
Bronze Medal Game
Canada 4 @ Finland 0
Brett Connolly, Canada, 0-0-0, E, 0 PIM, 3 SOG
Tournament totals: 6 GP, 5-1-6, +4, 4 PIM
Coyotes first rounder Mark Visentin stopped all 27 shots he faced to lead Canada to the Bronze Medal in their 4-0 win over Finland. Brett Connolly was held off the scoresheet for the first time in the tournament, but was named one of Canada's three best players in the tournament as selected by the coaches. He'll head back east now to rejoin the Lightning.
Gold Medal Game
Sweden 1 @ Russia 0 (OT)
Nikita Kucherov, Russia, 0-0-0, -1, 0 PIM, 2 SOG
Tournament totals: 7 GP, 2-5-7, +4, 2 PIM
Nikita Nesterov, Russia, 0-0-0, E, 0 PIM, 0 SOG
Tournament totals: 7 GP, 2-3-5, +7, 6 PIM
Ottawa first rounder Mika Zibanejad scored an overtime breakaway goal to earn Sweden its first Gold Medal in 31 years at the U20 World Junior Championships. Lulea netminder Johan Gustafsson, a Wild 6th rounder and a teammate of overage Lightning prospect Johan Harju, made 16 stops for the shutout. Draft eligible Andrei Makarov, who currently plays for Saskatoon in the WHL, stopped an amazing 57 of 58 shots in defeat. Lightning prospects Nikita Kucherov and Nikita Nesterov will be eligible to return next season for Team Russia in Ufa at next year's tournament. Nesterov finished tied for 3rd amongst defensemen in scoring and tied for 6th in plus/minus.
5th/6th Place Game
Czech Republic 5 @ Slovakia 2
Adam Janosik, Slovakia, 0-0-0, -1, 2 PIM, 0 SOG
Tournament totals: 6 GP, 0-1-1, E, 2 PIM
Lightning prospect Adam Janosik was named Slovakia's best player in their 5-2 loss to Czech Republic. He was scoreless and took a minor for cross-checking in the match. He finishes the tournament, his final U20 World Junior Championships, with a respectable even rating.
Tomorrow will be the final matches of the tournament. Canada and Finland will square off in the Bronze Medal Game and Sweden and Russia will settle matters in the Gold Medal Game.
Canada 5 @ Russia 6
Nikita Kucherov, Russia, 1-0-1, -2, 0 PIM, 2 SOG
Tournament totals: 6 GP, 2-5-7, +5, 2 PIM
Nikita Nesterov, Russia, 1-0-1, -1, 2 PIM, 1 SOG
Tournament totals: 6 GP, 2-3-5, +7, 6 PIM
Brett Connolly, Canada, 1-0-1, -1, 0 PIM, 6 SOG
Tournament totals: 5 GP, 5-1-6, +4, 4 PIM
In the mother of all Semifinals, Russia streaked out to a 6-1 lead early in the third period, and then held on by a fingernail in the face of 4 unanswered Canadian goals for the 6-5 victory. Nikita Kucherov's tap in goal as the trailer on a 3-on-1 ended up being the game winning goal in the match. Nikita Nesterov also contributed a power play goal for the Russians on a first period one timer from the point that was deflected in off a Canadian defender's stick. Lightning forward Brett Connolly scored the second Lightning prospect goal in the game as the extra attacker on a play where Nikita Nesterov was about to be sent off on a minor penalty. Connolly ripped a short side wrister for the goal that was Canada's only through 40 minutes. The most bizarre move of the match came when Russian coach Valeri Bragin's decided to lift Andrei Vasilevski after he stopped 44 of 49 shots for the Russians, but backup Andrei Makarov stopped 7 of 7 the rest of the way to secure the win, seemingly against all odds.
Connolly looked to be Canada's strongest player in the match. He had what was perhaps Canada's best chance to tie the game on a rebound off a shot that hit the post which he was unable to lift over Makarov's pads. Kucherov had some dangerous moments as a playmaker on what was Russia's de facto second line. He looked to be an extremely creative passer with superlative puckhandling skills that were among the best on display by both teams tonight. Nesterov, for his part, took a late second period penalty for interference that likely wasn't his and looked somewhat outclassed by the Canadians' speed and strength. Still, it's hard to complain about the Lightning prospect hat trick of goals.
Russia moves on to play Sweden in the Gold Medal match on Thursday. Sweden advanced to the Finals with a dramatic 3-2 shootout win over the rival Finns earlier in the night on the strength of a Max Friberg game tying goal with 1:44 left in regulation followed up by Friberg's winning shootout goal. Recall, Friberg scored the game tying goal with 40 seconds left in regulation against the Russians in the final game of the Preliminary Round to earn Sweden their bye in the Quarterfinals of the Medal Round. The Ducks fifth rounder is suddenly looking like a living legend for the Swedes.
Canada will play in the Bronze Medal match against the Finns on Thursday, as well.