The much anticipated New Year’s Eve battle between rivals Canada and Russia surely didn’t disappoint. Despite the 4-1 score, this game couldn’t have been closer. Both teams came out hunting for the win right from the opening whistle, but it was Canada who drew first blood with a goal at the 14:03 mark by Dougie Hamilton. Mark Schiefele added to the Canadian lead only a few minutes later off a pass from Jonathan Huberdeau. Refusing to let the game get away from them, the sell-out Russian crowd only got louder, and would be rewarded with a goal from Nikita Kucherov late in the period to cut the Canada lead in half.
Neither team’s intensity died down in a second period that was defined by fast play and hard hitting. Both teams had plenty of chances, but it was Canada who managed to score on a beautiful wrap around goal by Jonathan Drouin early in the second period to bring the lead back to 2. A flurry of Canadian shots were sent towards Andrei Makarov, who played brilliantly throughout the game, stopping 44 of 47 shots, to keep the Russians alive.
Desperate for a comeback, the Russians put the pedal to the metal in the third period, using their quickness to create many near opportunities in front of the Canadian goal. Unfortunately for them, Malcolm Subban came ready to play for the second night in a row, and refused to be beaten. With just under 2 minutes left, Makarov was pulled to give Russia the extra skater. Canada however, took advantage with an empty net goal by Huberdeau, that took the hope out of the home crowd. With a 4-1 lead, Subban flexed his muscles again, saving a late-awarded penalty shot, that would have at least provided a silver lining for the home Russian team.
The much deserved win gives Canada a bye into the semi-finals, while Russia now have to play on Wednesday against a gritty Switzerland team.
Writer’s Notes: I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention how unbelievable the Russian fans have been throughout the tournament thus far. Not only in supporting their own team, but in accommodating us Canadian fans as well. Even after defeat, their fans were lined up to shake our hands and take pictures with us donned in our Canadian paraphernalia. Despite some other deserving teams, judging from last night’s game, nothing would be better here in Ufa than a Canada-Russia rematch in the finals.
Rob Myerson is a Quebec trained secondary education teacher. After a year in Montreal, teaching at Beurling Academy, he moved to London, England where he currently resides and works. His previous sports writing experience comes from writing for Bishop's University's school newspaper, "The Campus".