WHAT A GAME!
The day’s late game did not disappoint as Russia and Sweden gave us some incredible hockey on the eve of new year’s eve. The Russians were able to get the final laugh as they took the game 4-3 on OT goal by Rodion Amirov. Philip Broberg was unable to get on the board as the Swedes relied heavily on some late game heroics by Alexander Holtz.
Russia moves into the Group B lead with the win but that could change by the end of tomorrow night. Only time will tell. Let’s take a more in-depth look at how we got to this point...
Broberg showed a bit of rust in the opening frame of this one. On the first shift of the game, he was walked by Vasili Podkolzin as he crashed the net. Amirov would put the rebound in the net only for the goal to be called off due to goaltender interference. Broberg bailed out early. Things didn’t get much better for the Swedes as the Russians controlled the pace of play for the majority of the period. Broberg seemed to be chasing the play and didn’t seem all too engaged. He was weak on opponents in front of the net and this lead to a few scoring chances against. He wouldn’t be on the ice for the first goal of the game, however, as Victor Soderstrom and Albert Johansson and Victor Soderstromn would get beat on the rush as Mikhail Abramov would send a cross-crease feed to Yegor Afanasyev for the first goal of the game. 1-0 Russia.
The Swedes would strike back in the period on quite a creative play. Noel Gunler would send a nifty backhand saucer pass through the legs of a Russian player to find Arvid Costmar in front who smacked a backhanded one-timer through the legs of Yaroslav Askarov. 1-1 game. Sweden got a chance on the power-play shortly after but failed to capitalize. Russia followed it up with a PP where they would convert. Podkolzin would find a wide-open Amirov to send it in to an open net. 2-1 for the Russians at the end of 20 minutes.
The first shift of the second started out very similar to the first: with Podkolzin beating Broberg wide and crashing the net. There would be no goal on the play this time but it highlighted Broberg’s difficulty defending tonight. As the period wore on it became clear that he was playing with some sort of injury. He shied away from contact as much as he could and was not his usual mobile self. The rest of the Swedish team was a different story. They played the Russians hard and were determined to tie things up.
The man in the middle of Sweden’s quest for a tie game was Alexander Holtz. He was buzzing the entire period and had an incredible chance on the PP midway through the period that rang off the crossbar. His hard work would eventually pay off as he would hit the post on a later play, gather the rebound from behind the Russian net, and sweep out front off of Askarov’s skate and into the net. 2-2 game at the end of 40.
The final frame was as tense as you would want a close game to be. The teams traded chances at each end of the ice and it seemed as though Broberg was starting to find his game. He had a few good plays on both ends of the ice and even showed off his hands in a brilliant chance on net. That improved play wouldn’t be enough to stop the Russians from taking the lead, as Kirill Kirsanov would wire a perfect shot over the shoulder of Wallstaedt on the powerplay. Halfway through the period, we had a Russian lead and the Swedish streak was officially in danger.
The seconds were counting down and the goalie was pulled for the Swedes. Just as the clock hit one minute remaining, Alexander Holtz wired a one-timer from the half-boards that hit Noel Gunler in the shin pads and into the net. This exciting game was going to OT.
The overtime, while tense, didn’t provide a ton of crazy scoring chances for the majority of the period. Both teams did well in limiting each other from getting clear looks and breakaways. That wouldn’t last forever as the Rodion Amirov would net the OT winner on a PP chance after picking up the trash on a rebound.
The insane Swedish streak of 54 wins comes to an end. What an exciting game to watch though.
Final Thoughts on Broberg:
It was a game to forget for Philip Broberg. He looked like he was playing through some sort of injury as he wasn’t his usual self. He seemed disengaged and unwilling to skate with the puck. He shied away from contact all night and just looked off. One of the things that gave away that something was wrong was the number of times he was beaten off the rush. Broberg is a fantastic skater so to see that he was getting beat so often should indicate that something was on.
The truly odd thing was that he led Sweden in time on ice. You think that if Broberg was struggling with something that the coach would shelter him and save those big minutes for the medal round. It will be interesting to see if we hear anything on his condition before their game against the U.S.A tomorrow at 7:30 pm MTN.