Monday marked the first day of the Under-18 Men’s World Championships that is taking place from April 26th to May 6th. This year, the annual tournament is being held in Frisco, Texas. Fans will be allowed in the building for the games, a welcomed sight in the sports world.
The tournament, as well as the IIHF, have received criticism in the past few days following the cancellation of the IIHF Women’s World Championships that were scheduled to take place in early May in Nova Scotia. The Women’s World Championships were cancelled due to COVID-19 precautions and new restrictions implemented in the province of Nova Scotia. However, despite the criticism and bad press, the U18 tournament is taking place as planned.
The U18 World Championship tournament sees the world’s best hockey players under 18 come together to battle out for U18 supremacy. The tournament consists of two pools, each pool consisting of 5 teams. Canada has sent their team of talented under-18s and will be playing in Pool A against Latvia, Switzerland, Sweden, and Belarus. Despite the Americans being the host of the tournament, the United States team will not have an easy round-robin as they are slotted in Pool B. Pool B consists of the Americans, Finland, Russia, Germany, and the Czech Republic; 5 strong hockey countries.
Day one, Monday the 26th, of the tournament started out with the Czech Republic taking on Germany, with the Czechs coming out on top with a 3-1 victory. The second game of the day saw Sweden roll over Belarus with a score of 5 to 1 and the third game saw Switzerland take on Latvia, with the Swiss coming out on top, 4-2.
The main attraction of the day was the two powerhouse hockey nations, the Russians taking on the hosts, the Americans. The Americans have a young but talented squad with seven of their players being underage. Despite the youth in their lineup, the Americans came out flying. Defensemen, Ryan Chesley, opened up the scoring for the red, white and blue early in the first period when he snuck one past the Russian goalkeeper with a beautiful shot from the point.
However, the Americans were not done there. The young American squad was able to put another puck past the Russians within the first 10 minutes of the game. This time, University of Michigan committed, Dylan Duke, slipped one in after a pass from the blue line. The Russians did not let the 2-0 lead last too long. Forward, Danila Yurov, slipped one past American goalie, Gibson Homer, to cut the lead to 2-1. The lead didn’t last long though…
With only 3 minutes left in the first, Sean Behrens, American defensemen, snuck another past the Russian netminder to secure team USA’s 2-goal lead heading into the second period. With another beautiful shot from the point to the top shelf, Behrens had secured the USA’s 2-goal lead heading into the second where things would get 10x more interesting.
The second period started with a bang when Ethan Straky, another American defensemen, furthered the American’s lead after joining in the rush and receiving a pass out front of the Russian net and with no one covering Straky, slid the 4th American goal of the night in the net. With the goal, Straky was the third American defensemen to score tonight. Sasha Pastujov broke the defense scoring trend when he plotted the 5th American goal of the night at the 15 minute mark of the second. Pastujov placed himself on the right faceoff dot, waited for the pass, and sunk a beautiful one-timer in to make it 5-1.
Despite the American’s goal scoring spree, the Russians did not back down. Matevi Michkov got the Russians one goal closer when he slid one past Gibson Homer. The Russian squad was not done there, however. Russian captain, Nikita Chibrikov, made it 5-3, inching the Russian squad one goal closer to tying the game up.
The high scoring second period did not stop with the Russian’s quick two goals. The Russian squad closed the gap even further when Matevi Michkov plotted his second of the night to make it 5-4. Dylan Duke stormed back for the Americans and slipped his second of the night past the Russians to further the Americans lead to 6-4.
With time winding down in the high scoring second period, the Russian team knew they didn’t want to go into the third down by 2. Ivan Miroshnichenko, forward, scored with just minutes left to get the Russians within one heading into the third.
The third was bound to be an exciting one with the Russian team right on the American’s tail. The Russian team exploded with 5 goals in the 20-minute second period and their scoring did not stop there. Fyodor Svechkov set up Miroshnichenko who tied the game up, 6-6. The Russians were not done there. To say the Russian squad was fired up would be an understatement.
Gibson Homer was able to keep the Americans in the game and force overtime. What started out as a American dominated game had quickly turned into an Russian dominated match with the American boys on their heels quickly. The Russians finished out the third period on fire with having scored 6 goals in a little under 40 minutes.
To take the lead and secure the victory for the Russians, Nikita Chibrikov, scored his second of the night in overtime. The Russians had come from behind to defeat the young Americans 7-6 in overtime to close out day one of the 2021 IIHF Under-18 Men’s World Championships.
Day two of the IIHF U-18 Men’s World Championship sees Finland taking on Russia, Switzerland taking on Belarus, the Americans back at it again against Germany and Canada taking on Sweden to open up their tournament.
We here at Unbenched, will be here everyday for a round-up of all of the previous day’s events. Games can be streamed off of the IIHF website and HockeyTV.com or on TSN in Canada and NHL Network for the USA.