A role reserved for the Canadians has birthed a co-star in recent years on the World Junior stage as another team in red has given Russia fits. This team however, wears a different red jersey, one that features a cross instead of the fabled maple leaf. Earlier today, Switzerland nearly spoiled the party in Ufa by forcing Russia to play for 5th place for the second time in three years.
Three years ago in Canada, it was the Swiss who stunned the Russians 3-2 in OT of the quaterfinals forcing them to miss a chance at medaling for the first time in six years. This time the Swiss were mere seconds away from dumping this years hosts once again only to be thwarted by late powerplay heroics. With Samuel Guerra in the box for slashing, Nikita Kucherov bounced on a deflection to put it past a sprawling Melvin Nyffeler to tie the game at 3.
Sven Andrighetto scored the go-ahead goal midway through the third to put the Swiss up 3-2 after they clawed their way back into it two times prior including a shothanded tally. Kucherov’s heroics weren’t called upon again until the shootout after Mikhail Grigorenko’s go-ahead tally was canceled out by Alessio Bertaggia. The 2011 Tampa Bay Lightming pick would easily dangle past Nyffeler and the Lightnings’ 2012 pick Andrei Vasilevski shut the door on Bertaggia’s second attempt to clinch the comeback.
Russia now face a short turnaround as they face Sweden tomorrow with revenge on their minds after losing the gold medal last year in Alberta. It will be interesting to see whether head coach Mikhail Varnakov goes with Vasilevski or Buffalo Sabres property Andrei Makarov