Russia see off Canada to top group at World Junior Hockey Championship

Russia see off Canada to top group at World Junior Hockey Championship
Russia claimed victory in the latest installment of their age-old ice hockey rivalry against Canada as the nations met at the World Junior Hockey Championship in front of 17,500 fans in Vancouver on New Year’s Eve.

Russia ran out 2-1 winners in a tight encounter at Rogers Arena, coming from behind after Canada’s Cody Glass had given the home team the lead.

That goal was cancelled out later in the first period by Grigori Denisenko, and while a tense goalless second period followed, Pavel Shen finally broke the deadlock 11 minutes into the third.

The win for Russia’s young guns put them top of Group A with four wins from four and set up a quarterfinal matchup with Slovakia on Wednesday.

Canada’s defeat was their only loss of the group stage, and they go on to face Finland on Tuesday after the Finns finished third in Group B.

After the game in amid an atmosphere of fervent home supports, Russian goalscorer Denisenko said: "When the whole arena is against you, booing you, we hear it all, so it brings the team together. We play like a family. That's why we play our best here.”

"It was a very tough game, especially mentally because you have to make decisions faster," Denisenko added.

"We were prepared for them. They are a fast and physical team, but our goalie played well and gave us confidence."

Canadian goalscorer Glass vowed that his team would bounce back: "We were flat in the first period… They really took it to us. We got better, but in a tournament like this you can't take a period off. We've learned from our mistakes."

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The tournament – which is played between national under-20 teams – is being held in Vancouver and Victoria, and runs from December  26 to January 5.

Canada are the defending champions and are chasing an 18th title overall. Russia are aiming for a first championship at this level since 2003 and 14th overall (including as part of the Soviet Union).