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#WCH2016: Bobrovsky named Russia's starting goalie

by Tom Gulitti / Columbus Blue Jackets

TORONTO -- From the start of training camp last week, Sergei Bobrovsky appeared to have the inside track to be Team Russia's No. 1 goaltender at the World Cup of Hockey 2016.

Coach Oleg Znarok previously refrained from confirming that, but announced at World Cup Media Day on Thursday that Bobrovsky will start for Team Russia in its preliminary-round opener against Team Sweden at Air Canada Centre on Sunday (3 p.m. ET; ESPN, SN, TVA Sports).

"We'll start with Sergei Bobrovsky and then we'll see how it goes," Znarok said.

Team Russia plays again Monday against Team North America (8 p.m. ET; ESPN2, SN, TVA Sports), so it's possible that Znarok will start Semyon Varlamov, who appears to be the No. 2, in that game rather than play Bobrovsky on consecutive days. But, Bobrovsky, 27, has played for Znarok at the past three World Championships, helping Russia win a medal in each, and clearly has his confidence.

"Obviously, [starting on Sunday] was my goal and it's a big honor for me to play in the first game, but, at the same time, it's a big challenge and you have big responsibilities in front of your team and your country," Bobrovsky said. "So, I look forward to doing that and, obviously, I'm very happy."

Bobrovsky solidified his position by making 45 saves in a 3-2 overtime loss to Team Canada in Team Russia's pretournament finale at Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh on Wednesday. There were no signs of rust that plagued him early in a 4-3 pretournament win over Team Czech Republic on Sept. 8 in St. Petersburg, Russia.

Bobrovsky made 29 saves in that game.

"I felt much better than the first game," Bobrovsky said. "I felt comfortable. I felt right there."

At this point, Bobrovsky isn't looking beyond the game Sunday, but it appears Team Russia's No. 1 goalie job is his to lose.

"I'm focusing on right here, right now," Bobrovsky said.

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