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27 Apr, 2021 14:04

‘We did it’: Russia stun USA in ice hockey championships comeback – despite losing star after he elbowed opponent in head (VIDEO)

‘We did it’: Russia stun USA in ice hockey championships comeback – despite losing star after he elbowed opponent in head (VIDEO)

Team Russia survived the dismissal of their inspirational captain for 10 minutes to earn a sensational win over hosts the USA at the IIHF World Under-18 Ice Hockey Championship, coming back from 5-1 down in the curtain-raiser.

The Russian prodigies recovered with a stunning comeback in response to going 5-1 down in the middle of the second period, with the USA building on a dream start to the game in which they scored twice before the Red Machine replied.

Russia were soon further behind to a powerplay goal after captain Nikita Chibrikov was given a 10-minute penalty for an elbow to the head, causing the hotly-tipped SKA St.Petersburg 18-year-old to confess his guilt afterwards.

"Of course, it was insulting," Chibrikov told Tass. "I apologized to the team for the misconduct. But ice hockey is an unpredictable game – anything can happen."

That observation was exemplified after Chibrikov's return to the ice, marking a U-turn in the game and helping Russia to pick up a second wind.

The US had dominated the second period to make it 4-1 and leave most Russia fans fearing a crushing defeat, only for the prospects to prove that they are a tough nut to crack, reversing the course of a thrilling, see-saw contest.

Led by Chibrikov, Russia hammered in three goals in seven minutes, reviving the intrigue in their ice battle against the Americans.

Both squads exchanged goals in the second period, with the USA's advantage reduced to a goal entering the third. Ivan Miroshnichenko soon canceled that out, taking the game into overtime.

Just two minutes of extra time had been played when Chibrikov netted the match-winner to earn his team a 7-6 win in the most dramatic of circumstances, establishing himself as a true leader and a star among the NHL draft hopeful.

The Czech Republic had previously held the record for the biggest comeback from a 5-1 deficit at Under-18 level, but they still went on to lose in 6-5 against Finland in 2017.

"I saw the opportunity and just shot the puck," said Chibrikov, who also provided two assists. "It was a good goal. It was a good effort from the team. We were able to change the way this game was played."

"Hockey is a game where you have to believe, every moment, and that was obviously the point when we believed we could change the course of this hockey game – and we did it."

Speaking about Chibrikov's moment of indiscipline, Russian head coach Albert Leshyov: "The guys are very young and emotions are sky-high. So sometimes you can see that in junior hockey."

USA head coach Dan Muse said emotions were also high among his squad after their agonizing defeat. "It's a tough pill for everybody to swallow, including staff and players," he admitted.

"The biggest thing for us is going to be just moving on to that next game and making sure that we're in a good frame of mind when we get to work here tomorrow."

Russia are next in action on Tuesday when they play Finland, while the US face Germany on Wednesday.

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