Russian juniors equipped to win it all: Supposed 'enigma' has yet to show any weakness
31.12.2005. Kingston, Gary. National Post.
KAMLOOPS - The Big Red Machine or a shades-of-grey enigma wrapped in those jerseys with the quirky-looking letters?
As is typically the case with Russian hockey, trying to get a read on
the country's team at the World Junior Hockey Championships is proving
difficult -- on and off the ice.
One of the most experienced teams in the tournament, with 17 19-
year-olds, the Russians efficiently dispatched Sweden 5-1 in their Pool
B round-robin opener then ran roughshod over the Slovaks 6-2, before
occasionally looking disinterested while being pushed by the upstart
Latvians in a 3-1 win Thursday.
All of that followed an 8-1 blowout loss to the Canadians in a
pre-tournament game, in which the Russians appeared to shut things down
when it was 5-1.
"They are like artists," said Tommy Boustedt, Sweden's director of
hockey development. "If they don't think it's fun, they stop playing,
you know? But as long as they think it's great fun, they'll be out
there and play. That's the Russian mind.
"If they are motivated, they can play awesome hockey."
Are they motivated?
Well, once again answering that question is like trying to read a
Russian newspaper when the only word you know is nyet. The Russians are
notoriously insular and it's been no different at this tournament.
While the Latvian and Swedish players, for instance, talk freely, aided
by the fact most speak decent English, all the Russians talk only
through translators -- and only when the mood strikes.
After Thursday's game, coach Sergey Mikhalev, a white-haired, bear of a
man who chuckles at reporters' questions, did a post-game session with
the media, but only one player -- defenceman Alexei Emelin -- came to
the mixed zone for interviews. Several Kamloops reporters wanted
Russian star Evgeni Malkin, but he was a no-show, as were several other
Cornered in the arena parking lot for help, the Vancouver police
officer serving as the Russians' team host -- and, by extension,
interview facilitator -- said the problem was "we've only got one
translator and she is doing something else."
The Russians are 3-0 and poised to get a bye into the semifinals with a
win tonight over the Czechs in Kelowna. But the feeling is the best is
yet to come.
"We will get better and better with every game," said Emelin, one of a
handful of Russians who was in Grand Forks, N.D., last year when the
team lost 6-1 to Canada in the gold-medal game. "We haven't played our
best game yet."
Boustedt says this year's Russian team is better balanced than last
year's, and comparable to the squad that won gold in Halifax in 2003.
Nine different Russians have scored goals so far.
If there's one area where the Russians will need to step it up in the
medal round, it's in the physical play -- if, of course, the refereeing
"Maybe they have to get a little tougher," said Latvian captain Martins
Karsums, who has played three years in the QMJHL. "If they're going to
play against the Canadians and the U.S., those teams are fast and
And their supposedly suspect goaltending? No. 1 Anton Kudobin has the tournament's best save percentage at .948.
"When they won in Halifax, the big problem before the tournament
everyone said was that they had sloppy goaltending," said Boustedt.
"But it was good enough at that time."
Первая страничка молодежных чемпионатов мира 2006 года
|Подгруппа А - подробнее
Канада, США, Финляндия, Швейцария, Норвегия
|Подгруппа В - подробнее
Россия, Чехия, Швеция, Словакия, Латвия
|За 7-10 места - подробнее
Швейцария, Словакия, Латвия, Норвегия
|1/4 финала - подробнее
Швеция - Финляндия
США - Чехия
|1/2 финала - подробнее
Канада - Финляндия
Россия - США
|Финал - подробнее
За 5 место. Швеция - Чехия
За 3 место. Финляндия - США
За 1 место. Канада - Россия