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Russians down Belarus

Kostin scores twice in Russia's second win

Published 29.12.2017 16:36 GMT-5 | Author Lucas Aykroyd
Russians down Belarus
BUFFALO, NEW YORK - DECEMBER 29: Russia's Alexei Polodyan #27 celebrates his first period goal against Belarus with teammates during the preliminary round of the 2018 IIHF World Junior Championship. (Photo by Andrea Cardin/HHOF-IIHF Images)
Outshooting Belarus 40-19, Russia earned a solid 5-2 win in Friday's early game at HarborCenter. Klim Kostin was the offensive leader with two goals.

"I can’t talk about myself personally," said Kostin. "I can just talk about my teammates, who made sure that I scored. I think their performance was 100 percent today."

German Rubtsov and Artur Kayumov notched a goal and an assist apiece, and Alexei Polodyan also scored for Russia. Artyom Manukyan and Andrei Svechnikov both chipped in two assists.

For Belarus, Sergei Pishuk led the way with a goal and an assist, and Dmitri Deryabin had the other goal.

Russian coach Valeri Bragin doesn't have as much talent to deploy as in recent years, but his team seems to be getting back on track after a surprising 5-4 loss to the Czechs and a 5-2 win over Switzerland that was harder than it needed to be.

"We play together as a fist," said Kostin of suiting up for Bragin. "His teams are always extremely close-knit, like a family, and I always enjoy playing for him."

Russia has medaled at every World Juniors since last winning the tournament in Buffalo in 2011 under Bragin. It took bronze last year.

The Russians often experience peaks and valleys during the preliminary round. They will get a better test of their mettle against the talented Swedes on New Year's Eve in a game that will likely decide first place in Group B.

Pointless Belarus is now virtually assured of winding up in the relegation round. Its group finale is on Saturday against the Czech Republic.

In goal, Vladislav Sukhachyov got the start again for Russia, having taken over in net ever since Alexei Melnichuk was pulled after the second period of the 5-4 opening loss to the Czech Republic. Andrei Grishenko got his third straight start in goal for Belarus,

Striving to not simply roll over for their “big brothers,” the Belarusians played gritty hockey from the outset. But Russia’s heavy pressure would pay off in a period where Belarus was outshot 15-3.

At 10:14, Polodyan’s wrister from the right side deflected past Grishenko to make it 1-0 with his second goal of the tournament.

Two and a half minutes later, Rubtsov finished off a nice give and go with Artyom Manukyan on the rush, dangling to the net and sliding home the 2-0 marker.

With about four minutes left in the opening frame, Belarus forward Ilya Litvinov was shaken up on a heavy hit by Russian defenceman Vladislav Syomin. However, he skated off under his own power and would return.

Three minutes into the second period, Belarus got a golden chance on a 2-on-1 rush, but Arseni Astashevich shot the puck high and wide.

Seconds later, Kostin played catch with Svechnikov deep in the Belarus zone before waltzing into the slot and beating Grishenko high to the stick side for a 3-0 lead. Although the Russians couldn't capitalize when Belarus took three straight minors, the penalties hampered the comeback hopes of coach Yuri Faikov's team.

In the third period, the Belarusians got some life when Deryabin flew down left wing and surprised Sukhachyov with a high glove-side goal at 2:03. However, Artur Kayumov, who got the winner against Switzerlsnd, restored Russia's three-goal edge at 4:21. 

Kostin powered out of the corner and around the Belarus defence before lifting the 5-1 goal home at 8:12. It was his third of these World Juniors. At 10:43, Pishuk cut the deficit to 5-2, but that was as close as the underdogs would get.

Asked to rate his team's performance in this game, Kostin said: "Ninety-nine out of one hundred."

Belarus squandered a late opportunity with an extended power play -- including a 5-on-3 for 1:26 -- after Russia's Mikhail Maltsev took a high-sticking double-minor.

This was Russia’s seventh straight all-time win over Belarus, dating back to the 1999 World Juniors in Canada.

Of Belarus, Kostin said: "I think it’s a good team. We’re a little bit better as a team. But they have a lot of very good players with high potential. I think they’ll be OK in the future."

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