Calgary, AB - A pair of third period goals proved to be Slovakia's undoing as Russia rallied in the final frame for a 3-1 victory on Wednesday at Scotiabank Saddledome in Group A round-robin action at the World Junior Championship.
Edmonton Oilers draft picks, defencemen Martin Marincin and Martin Gernat, were on the ice when Slovakia jumped out to a 1-0 lead on the defending gold medalists through 20 minutes, thanks to an unassisted goal from Milos Bubela.
But Russia battled back with three unanswered goals in the final two frames from Igor Ozhiganov, Mikhail Naumenkov and Nikita Kucherov to seal the victory and improve to 2-0 on the tournament, in turn dropping Slovakia to 1-1. Shots were tight throughout the contest, finishing 40-32 in Russia's favour.
"It was a hard game today," a disappointed Gernat said after the loss. "We wanted to play all game with Russia and skate all game with them, but we made two mistakes in the last period and there was two goals. They've got it all. They're really good skaters with really good skills too."
"Whenever we lose, it's not very good," Marincin added. "I think we need to shoot more to be better. We were a little bit tired, but tomorrow we have the day off, so we need to relax and get ready for the next game. We need a good practice to get ready for our games against Sweden and Switzerland."
Gernat (122nd overall in 2011) finished the game with three shots on goal and an even rating, while Marincin (46th overall in 2010) fired two pucks on net and also had an even rating. The defensive duo has combined for two assists and a +3 rating thus far at the tournament.
Slovakia's schedule doesn't get any easier following their game against the defending champs, as they have an off-day Thursday before battling 2-0 Sweden on Friday at 3:30pm at the Saddledome. They conclude the Preliminary Round on Saturday at 4pm against Switzerland.