Russia beats Switzerland to win bronze at world juniors


Russia captain Klim Kostin gestures to the crowd after receiving his medal after Russia defeated Switzerland to win the bronze medal at the IIHF world junior hockey championship in Vancouver, on Saturday January 5, 2019. (Darryl Dyck/CP)

VANCOUVER — After their semifinal loss to the U.S. on Friday night, the Russian team held a players-only meeting.

"We tried to say something what we should do today," said defenceman Dmitri Samorukov, an Edmonton Oilers draft pick who plays for the OHL’s Guelph Storm.

"It worked."

Kirill Slepets scored a hat trick, his second goal coming on a third-period breakaway, as Russia defeated Switzerland 5-2 to win the bronze medal at the 2019 IIHF World Junior Championship on Saturday.

"It was a good win," said Samorukov. "You win your last game, it feels like gold.

"You made a family for two weeks. It’s unbelievable just to see the guys and all the staff. It’s pretty special."

Slepets’ goal at 6:33 of the third gave Russia a 4-2 lead just when the Swiss were pressing to tie the game. He used his speed to slice between two Swiss defencemen then scored on a backhand.

He later scored into an empty net to give him five goals and seven points in seven games at the tournament.

"I was not so good during the whole tournament, but this game I was able to score three goals and that helped the team," said the native of Khabarousk, a city 30 kilometres from the Chinese border, who is eligible for this year’s draft.

"The main thing for me is to help the team get the win."

Klim Kostin and Nikita Shashkov also scored for Russia before a crowd of 12,025 at Rogers Arena. Goaltender Pyotr Kochetkov stopped 34 shots, including several big saves in the third period when the Russians were outshot 16-3.

"It’s truly a big day, a long time working toward this, a lot of hard work," said Kochetkov, who was passed over in last year’s NHL draft. "Thank you so much for the team … the coaching staff, that believe in me and gave me the chance."

Valentin Nussbaumer and Yannick Bruschweiler replied for Switzerland. Goalie Luca Hollenstein made 19 saves.

The Swiss trailed 2-0 after the first period, but battled back to make it 3-2 heading into the third.

"The first period was terrible and I couldn’t understand," said Swiss coach Christian Wohlwend. "I don’t know what the players were thinking. Then I got louder in the dressing room. I had to wake them up, kind of, and it worked.

"From my perspective, we had a very great second and even better third. All the chances we created against Russia was crazy for us, but we couldn’t bury our chances and that’s why we lost."

Bruschweiler was pleased with how the Swiss played but disappointed with the final result.

"In the end it was a good tournament for us, but when you are so near to get a medal, it’s sad still," he said.

Russia lost 2-1 to the United States in one semifinal Friday while the Swiss were routed 6-1 by Finland.

NOTES: Switzerland’s only world junior medal is a bronze in 1998. … Russian teams have won a total of 36 medals at the tournament (13 gold, 12 silver and 11 bronze). … Kostin celebrated his second-period goal by plugging his ears to block the boos from the pro-Swiss crowd.

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