Kootenay Ice defenceman Rinat Valiev and Team Russia escaped Friday’s opening day of the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship with a 3-2 shootout win over Team Denmark at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto.
A pair of Canadian Hockey League stars, Oliver Bjorkstrand (Portland Winterhawks, WHL) and Nikolaj Ehlers (Halifax Mooseheads, QMJHL) gave the Danes a 2-0 lead after 20 minutes of play.
Nikolai Goldobin got the Russians on the board during the final minute of play in the second period before Maxim Mamin tied things 2-2 midway through the third period, forcing overtime.
Despite going end-to-end and trading scoring chances in the extra period, overtime solved nothing between the Danes and Russians.
In the shootout, Russian goaltender Ilya Sorokin bested Ehlers and Bjorkstrand, while Sergei Tolchinksi (Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, OHL) and Goldobin both beat Danish netminder Georg Sorensen.
Valiev earned an assist on Russia’s opening goal in the second period by Goldobin, with Brandon Wheat Kings defenceman Ivan Provorov also helping out. Outside of his one assist, Valiev got three shots through to Sorensen and was hit with a two-minute inference minor in the first period.
Bjorkstrand added an assist on Ehlers tally, earning two points to lead all skaters on both sides.
Sorensen stood tall between the pipes for Denmark, steering aside 37 of the 39 shots directed his way in regulation. At the other end of the rink, Sorokin made 24 saves on 26 shots in regulation.
Next up, Valiev and Team Russia face Team Switzerland and former Everett Silvertips defenceman Mirco Mueller Sunday afternoon at 3 p.m. (MT) at the Air Canada Centre.