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Russia takes WJC bronze with 2-1 win against Canada

by Adam Kimelman /

Russia scored twice in the first period and Andrey Vasilevskiy shut down the Canadian offense as Russia won the bronze medal at the 2014 IIHF World Junior Championship with a 2-1 win Sunday at Malmo Arena in Malmo, Sweden.

Mikhail Grigorenko and Eduard Gimatov each had a goal and Vasilevskiy made 30 saves as Russia ended Canada's medal hopes in the third-place game for the second straight tournament. At the 2013 WJC, Russia beat Canada 6-5 in overtime in the bronze-medal game.

It also marked the fourth straight tournament in which Canada lost to Russia in the medal round, following a 5-3 loss in the 2011 gold-medal game and a 6-5 loss in the semifinals in 2012.

The win gave Russia a medal in nine of the past 10 World Juniors. They've also medaled in four straight tournaments, with gold in 2011, silver in 2012 and now back-to-back bronze medals.

"We beat them again so it's a good time right now," Grigorenko told the IIHF website. "It's a tough game to prepare for but once it starts you just play hockey and want to win the game."

Joshua Morrissey scored for Canada and Zachary Fucale made 30 saves on 32 shots as Canada finished off the medal podium for the second straight World Juniors, the first time that's happened since 1979-81, prior to the creation of Hockey Canada's Program of Excellence in 1982. Entering the 2013 World Juniors, Canada had won a medal in 14 straight tournaments.

"It's tough," Canada captain Scott Laughton told the IIHF website. "You can't put it into words. When you put on this crest and try to represent your country and can't even bring a medal back to Canada for the people who've been cheering for you and have 4,000 fans come down here, it's heartbreaking."

"Canada expects more," Fucale said on TSN. "We expect more of ourselves. We didn't get it done. We just didn't win."

Grigorenko, who started the season with the Buffalo Sabres, opened the scoring for Russia 3:35 into the game. With Bo Horvat off for hooking, Russia worked the puck in the Canadian zone. Grigorenko got the puck above the right faceoff circle and tried to send a pass in front to teammate Pavel Buchnevich in the high slot. The pass missed Buchnevich but found the right skate of Canada defenseman Matt Dumba and deflected into the net.

The 12th pick of the 2012 NHL Draft has two goals in 18 games with the Sabres this season, but his goal Sunday was his team-best fifth in seven WJC games.

"It was a little bit lucky," Grigorenko said. "I was trying to make a pass to Buchnevich and there were a lot of guys in front."

Russia made it 2-0 14:38 into the first on Gimatov's first goal. He took a pass from Andrei Mironov and skated into the Canada end. He backed down Morrissey and used him as a screen when he fired a wrist shot from above the left circle. Fucale was late picking up the shot and it went over his blocker.

Fucale said it was a puck he needed to stop.

"There was no deflection," Fucale told the IIHF website. "He just scored. It's something I have to stop. That was my bad, for sure."

Canada had great chances to get on the board. Sam Reinhart found his brother, Griffin, sneaking in through the back door with a sensational diagonal pass through the Russian zone late in the second but the puck clanked off the heel of Griffin Reinhart's stick to short-circuit the scoring attempt.

Then on a power play early in the third, Vasilevskiy stopped Griffin Reinhart's point shot and then slid over to deny Horvat on the rebound.

Canada finally got on the board on Morrissey's goal at 7:10 of the third. Jonathan Drouin won a faceoff on the right side of the Russian zone, with the puck rolling back to defenseman Adam Pelech. The New York Islanders prospect pushed it ahead to Charles Hudon at the half wall, where he spotted Morrissey cutting to the net through the backdoor and sent a pass in front that hit the Winnipeg Jets draft pick in the left skate and deflected past Vasilevskiy. A replay review upheld the call.

That was all Canada could get, however, as Vasilevskiy, the Tampa Bay Lightning prospect, denied their push the remainder of the third period. That included a nice stop on Derrick Pouliot's shot on a power play midway through the second and then an even better stop on Nicolas Petan from in close on the rebound.

In six games at the 2014 WJC, Vasilevskiy went 4-2 with a 1.83 goals-against average and .933 save percentage. In 15 games in three World Junior tournaments, Vasilevskiy is 10-4 with a 1.89 goals-against average, .946 save percentage, three shutouts and three medals.

"Vasilevskiy was excellent," Grigorenko said. "He's probably been the best player in the tournament. He won the game for us."

Canada was let down by its power play in its final two games. After going 0-for-5 in its 5-1 loss to Finland in the semifinals, Canada went 0-for-5 against Russia on Sunday. Canada also took five minor penalties against Russia after taking five against Finland, plus two 10-minute misconducts.

"We certainly played better here," Canada coach Brent Sutter said. "We controlled most of the play. Lots of chances but we didn't capitalize on them. Now we go home with nothing."

Sutter said there are some positives to take into the 2015 WJC, which will be held in Montreal and Toronto.

"There's no excuses here but it is the second-youngest team Hockey Canada has put together in this tournament," Sutter said. "Next year it holds pretty well to have possibly 11 returning guys plus you have guys that were just on the outside looking in, 18-year-old players that will be 19 years old next year that didn't make this team but certainly will next year and certainly will be players that will be impactful for this team next year. There's things to be positive about but it's disappointing right now."


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