World Juniors Semi-Finals: Tears of Joy and Sadness, and the Finals are Set

Jerred Bapty
BarnBurner Sports Writer


Saturday, January 5, 2019

VANCOUVER/VICTORIA, BC – Russian Captain Klim Kostin unfortunately let his emotions get the best of him following a 2-1 loss to the Americans, knocking Russia out of contention for a gold medal. 

The St. Louis Blues prospect was awarded one of Russia’s Player of the Tournament Awards but didn’t accept it with much grace. He threw his helmet off as he approached the mat, took his award immediately to the bench and barely returned for a photo before swearing at the booing crowd. 

Sometimes it’s tough to keep your emotions in check in such moments of despair. Fans shouldn’t forget these are just youngsters who’ve worked their entire lives to get to this point and may never make it higher than this. 

Their passion shouldn’t be booed, but appreciated. The 19-year-old released an apology for his actions and admitted his mistake. 

Sometimes the most growth comes not in victory, but in defeat.

The game itself unfolded somewhat differently than folks may have expected. The Russians played flat-footed for about the first half of the game and let the Americans jump to a 2-0 lead. 

Oliver Wahlstrom scored later in the 1st and Alexander Chmelevski got the second goal on the powerplay for the Americans early in the 2nd. The US continues to support the best powerplay in the tournament at 32%. 

Grigori Denisenko finally got the Russians on the board with just over 6 minutes left to play in the 2nd frame and sparked the Russians back to life. It was his 8th point of the tournament, tying him for top spot with the likes of USA’s Ryan Poeling and Canada’s Morgan Frost. 

Unfortunately, the fire didn’t last. 

The best word to describe Russia’s 3rd period is complacent. They seemed to be gliding more than skating and showed a lack of aggression on the puck. 

They Russians pressed late in the frame but, the Americans shut them down and advance to the gold medal match Sunday evening. 

Kostin along with Ilya Morozov and one of the top goalies in the tournament Pyotr Kochetkov received Russia’s Player of the Tournament Awards, while Denisenko was named Russia’s Player of the Game. 

Ryan Poehling, Jason Robertson and Mikey Anderson were America’s Player of the Tournament award recipients while goalie Cayden Primeau was the Player of the Game. 

Russia will play for Bronze Sunday afternoon. 

Finland Pumps Switzerland

Four quick Finnish goals chased top tournament goalie and Swiss starter Luca Hollenstein in a crushing 6-1 defeat.

Hollenstein had been having quick an impressive tournament and was sporting a .978 Save Percentage going into this game. He was replaced just under 8 minutes into this one and the Swiss couldn’t recover. 

Finland’s first goal came just 40 seconds in from Jesse Ylonen and Finnish captain Aarne Talvitie followed up with two quick ones before Henri Jokiharju scored the 4th on the man advantage to end Hollenstein’s night. 

The Swiss ended the period on a positive with a goal coming from the tournament’s leading scorer Philipp Kurashev, his 6th goal of the tournament. 

Switzerland was ultimately overwhelmed in every aspect this game. They managed just 17 shots to Finland’s 33 and took double the amount of penalties. 

Despite the loss, Swiss head coach Christian Wohlwend is proud of his young lads and is looking forward to the Bronze Medal game. 

“It’s a fact but, now [we need to] regroup… and realize what we’ve achieved over the past couple days,” he said. “Playing now in the bronze medal game, I hope our players are eager and horny enough to win this game.”

An interesting, yet somehow fitting choice of words from the always-entertaining Wohlwend.

The Swiss can win their second Bronze and second ever medal at the World Juniors but, will have to beat the Russians to do it. The Swiss have beaten Russia only twice in World Junior history, 3-2 in 2000 in Russia, and in Saskatchewan 2010 by the same score. 

Finland gets to take on the USA for their first try at Gold since they won in Helsinki in 2016 and could be their 3rdgold in the last 6 years. 

Hollenstein and Kurashev along with Tim Berni were named Switzerland’s Players of the Tournament.

Jokiharju and Talvitie along with Finnish goalie Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen received Finland’s Player of the Tournament awards.

Kasakhstan Remains, Denmark Out

It was elation for Kazakhstan in a 4-0 defeat of Denmark and a 2-0 relegation series victory. 

With the win, Kazakhstan gets to stay in the top division, while Denmark is relegated to Division 1 Group A. Germany will be promoted for the 2020 World Juniors. 

Kazakhstan jumped to an early 1-0 lead just 35 seconds with a goal from Sayan Daniyar. Davyd Makutski scored about 4 minutes later and that was it for Danish goalie Mads Soegaard. Milliam Rorth came in and let two more goals in as the game continued. 

Both goals came in the 3rd, both from Kazakhstan’s leading scorer Artur Gatiyatov. With those two goals, he also leapt into a tie of the tournament’s points lead with 8. 

The Danes outshot the Kazakhs 25-16 and only took 6 minutes of penalties to Kazakhstan’s 18, but couldn’t convert on any of their chances. Demid Yeremeyev stood on his head once again for Kazakhstan and proved to be their best player of the tournament. 

He along with Gatiyatov and Daniyar received Kazakhstan’s Player of the Tournament awards and Daniyar also got the Player of the Game award. 

For Denmark, it was Jonathan Brinkman, Jeppe Urup and Jonas Rondbjerg who were named the Danish Players of the Tournament, while Lasse Mortensen was the Player of the Game. 


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Twitter: @Captainbapty


Image: @IIHF