Russia and Sweden got things started off well at the opening game of the World Under-17 Challenge in Fort St. John, B.C. on Sunday, with the 2014 tournament champions from Russia grabbing the 5-2 victory.
The first period proved to be a quick and exciting affair for the fans in attendance. Just five minutes into the game, Sweden scored the very first goal of the tournament after Erik Aterius tipped in a shot from the point while on the power-play to give the Tre Kronor the 1-0 lead early.
The second half of the period would show just how strong Russia could be. The champions from a year ago, Russia scored twice before the end of the first to take the 2-1 lead. First, just two minutes after Aterius’ goal, Igor Zenchikov poked in a rebound on the power-play to knot things up at one apiece. Then, ten minutes later, Aleksander Osin followed through with his own rebound after getting Olle Eriksson Ek out of position for their first lead of the game.
The second period was all Russia on the scoreboard, but the Swedes would actually manage to put the puck in first. Timothy Liljegren would get rewarded for a solid individual effort, getting deep into the zone before firing it past Arseni Akhmetov for the tying goal.
His work would almost go to waste, however, as Eriksson Ek’s mediocre showing in the Swedish net didn’t help the cause. Klim Kostin would give the Russians their second lead of the game after Mark Rubinchik’s wrist shot was tipped in over Eriksson Ek’s arm for the 3-2 goal. Then, with four minutes remaining in the second, Kirill Slepets banged in a rebound right at the top of the crease to grant Russia the two-goal lead heading into the final intermission.
The third period saw both goalies playing particularly well, with only one goal finding the back of the net. Ivan Chekhovich didn’t have to find a way to beat the Swedish goalie on the play, instead just beating out an icing call to keep the puck in play and score on an empty net with a minute to go. It was good enough to officially seal the deal for the Russians, as the favoured team came out with a 5-2 victory to open up Group B at the Under-17 Challenge.
Russia will once again be in action early on Monday, a 4:30pm EST start against Finland. Sweden will have a chance to take on one of three Canadian teams at the tournament, battling Canada Red during the 9:00pm night time affair.
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