Russia, the only team to claim medals at each of the last four World Junior Championships, rallied for a 3-2 shootout win over the talented Danes.
Sergei Tolchinski and Nikolai Goldobin scored for the winners while Nikolaj Ehlers and Oliver Bjorkstrand, the two goal scorers in regulation, missed for Denmark.
It was the first ever meeting between the two nations at the U20 level and kicked off the 2015 World Junior Championship in dramatic fashion. A David-versus-Goliath matchup was decided by the slimmest of margins.
"We started out feeling good, and as the game went on we felt better and better," said Bjorkstrand. "We got close and felt we played really well. Our speed matches up well with theirs, I think, even though they might be a bit bigger."
"Yeah, I think we were a little bit suprised by how well they played," Tolchinski admitted. "They have a really good team. They were proud and skilled; we didn't expect that kind of hockey."
The first period was entirely a matter of special teams. The Danes took two early penalties but killed them off to perfection. But when they got their first power play, thanks to an interference penalty to Rinat Valiev, they struck eight seconds after the faceoff to start the man advantage.
Bjorkstrand had the puck at the top of the circle and fired a shot off the post and in, over Ilya Sorokin’s glove, to give the Danes an improbable 1-0 lead at 13:15. The impressive crowd of 12,412 cheered in unison for the underdogs.
The Danes proved the goal was no fluke. They matched the Russians in physical play and kept their faster adversaries to the outside. And, when they got a second power play a couple of minutes later, they added to their lead in impressive fashion.