Belarus’ chances at the quarter-finals look better today after taking down Denmark 5-1 on Tuesday afternoon.
In a day with many of the big stars at the tournament taking the day off, Denmark and Belarus met on Tuesday morning for a match that had some under-the-radar importance. No, neither team is battling for the top of their group, but both teams are currently in a battle for fourth in Group B. Belarus had the advantage coming in, sitting tied for fourth with four points in two games. The Danes sat sixth with just a single point, but a victory in relegation today would help put them up in the quarter-final discussion.
Denmark knew that scoring had been tough in this tournament, with them scoring just three goals in their first game against Slovakia, and none against Finland. Belarus is also coming off of a very close game against the Slovaks, who won 2-1 in overtime after some late goals in the contest. So when some nice passing between Nichlas Hardt and Morten Madsen resulted in a goal for Julian Jakobsen, the team was rightfully ecstatic. The goal came at a time where Belarus was coming off a terrible line change, leaving goaltender Kevin LaLande all alone to face the tic-tac-toe passing play.
44 seconds into the second, Belarus would tie the game up at one. Former Montreal Canadiens forward Andrei Kostitsyn had been having a good game at this point, and would grab an assist after making pass from behind the net to Artur Gavrus, who scored his first of the tournament to make it 1-1. Like Kostitsyn, Gavrus also had a first good period, taking three shots as he seemed to always find a good lane in front for a shot.
Belarus were the much stronger team out of the gate in the second, and before the period was half over, the team would take the 2-1 lead. After the Danes tried to force their opponents to the boards, Alexander Kulakov took a backhand pass towards Patrick Galbraith in an attempt to get the rebound. Fortunately for him, Yevgeniy Kovyrshin was right on the doorstep and spun around to beat the Danish netminder for the 2-1 goal.
Minutes later, it was 3-1. Belarus was doing a good job at exploiting the weak Danish defense, and some coverage in front of Galbraith allowed Ilya Shinkevich to skate in from the point, take a pass from Alexei Kalyuzhniy in the corner and score a quick one.
Belarus would take the 5-1 lead with 15 minutes still left on the clock. Kovyrshin would pot home his second goal after taking a slick pass from Alexander Kulakov at the right faceoff circle, beating Galbraith with the quick backhand between the wickets for the four goal advantage. Ivan Usenko would score another one for Belarus before it was all over, giving his team the 5-1 lead and the victory in the process,
Belarus will have to wait until Thursday to hit the ice, when they’ll take on the red-hot Americans. Denmark will back in action on Wednesday, taking on the Russians at 10:15am EST.
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