Share this article

print logo

Shikin, late rally propel Russia into final ; Goalie makes 46 saves in shootout win

Dmitri Shikin did most of his postgame interviews in Russian on Monday.

He needed just one word, in English, to sum up his feeling on getting a chance to play for the IIHF World Junior Championship gold medal:

"Excellent."

It was a fitting word choice because that also described his performance between the pipes for Russia. Sensational and spectacular also would be good ones as Shikin had Sweden saying a few choice words at the end of Monday's semifinal showdown at HSBC Arena.

Shikin stole the show for Russia, which pulled off its second stunning comeback in less than 24 hours by beating the heavily favored Swedes, 4-3, in a shootout before an estimated 9,000 at HSBC Arena.

Denis Golubev scored the only goal of the shootout, while Shikin followed up his 46 saves through 70 minutes of regulation with stops on Oscar Lindberg and Sebastian Wannstrom before receiving help from his best friend, the goal post, on Anton Lander's tying bid. Russia netted its record 29th medal in the 35 years of the World Juniors.

Russia will play its 13th gold-medal game against either Canada or the United States on Wednesday night at HSBC Arena.

"We're in the finals, I can't describe it," Shikin said through a translator. "It's overwhelming emotions."

The win over a Swedish crew that entered the tournament with hopes of winning its first gold medal since 1981 extended another streak for the Russians. They have followed up each non-medal year in this event by winning one the next -- the sixth time they have achieved the feat.

"It's so exciting," said St. Louis prospect and Russian captain Vladimir Tarasenko. "We have a great team with good players."

Shikin, the 6-foot, 176-pounder who plays for SKA St. Petersburg, is one of them.

Shikin won the battle with 6-6, 240-pound Anaheim prospect Igor Bobkov to be the team's starter early in this tournament after a fine 36-save performance in a 2-0 loss to Sweden. He has played every game since and showed why he was coach Valeri Bragin's No. 1 guy in the rematch against the Swedes.

Shikin, who entered the clash with the fifth-best save percentage (.925) of the tournament, made big stops early while giving his teammates a chance to get their legs following Sunday's 4-3 comeback win in overtime over Finland in which they scored twice in the final 3:41 to force the extra period.

Shikin turned aside 18 shots in the third period and overtime Monday. He made a sensational glove stop on Johan Larsson two minutes into overtime. He made another on a challenging shot through traffic 40 seconds later. The Swedes outshot their counterparts, 5-1, in the extra session -- coming up empty each time.

"I can feel the strength coming up and I was trying to catch everything," Shikin said.

"He's a great goalie, it's no surprise to me he can play like he did today," Bragin said.

Russia took advantage of a surprisingly sluggish start by the fresh Swedish crew that earned a bye into the semifinals. The Russians bolted to a 2-0 lead on goals by Tarasenko and Golubev.

Adam Larsson scored on the power play through a screen late in the second period to begin Sweden's rally. Calle Jarnkrok scored via deflection early in the third to tie it. Patrick Cehlin gave the Swedes the lead with 3:19 left on the power play on a shot Shikin never saw, seemingly breaking the Russians' spirit.

It didn't. Sergei Kalinin's goal with 1:27 left off a scramble following a turnover gave Russia hope for another comeback win.

"It was good luck and God was with us," Tarasenko said.

Along with a spectacular goalie.

e-mail: mrodriguez@buffnews.com

There are no comments - be the first to comment