Russia sets up classic matchup with Canada

KEN WIEBE -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 10:45 AM ET

GRAND FORKS, N.D. -- The American dream is dead. The defending world junior hockey champions saw hopes of a repeat on their home soil go up in smoke as Russia came away with a 7-2 win before a crowd of 9,024 at the Ralph Engelstad Arena last night.

RUSSIA 7 UNITED STATES 2

Canada meets Russia in the gold-medal game tomorrow at 7:08 p.m. (TSN), while the U.S. faces the Czech Republic for the bronze medal tomorrow at 3:08 p.m. (TSN).

"It brings back a lot of memories," said Canada head coach Brent Sutter. "It goes back to '72. There's excitement in the air."

Alexander Ovechkin and Evgeni Malkin each had two goals and an assist to lead the way for Russia, while goalie Anton Khodobin made 22 saves.

Russia has beaten Canada three consecutive times in gold medal matchups: in Winnipeg in 1999, in the 2002 final in the Czech Republic and in the 2003 final in Halifax.

"I don't think it will give us any advantage," Malkin said through an interpreter. "These are two countries who love hockey. The strongest will come out on top. It will be an interesting game."

It may be even more interesting after Ovechkin's post-game comments.

"They have a good team," Ovechkin said of facing Canada. "They have good forwards, good defencemen, but nobody knows how the goalie is. We must prove we have better forwards."

Russia needed only 19 seconds to convert on its first power play opportunity as defenceman Dimitri Vorobiev found Enver Lisin for a redirection at 1:58.

Ovechkin, the first overall pick in the 2004 NHL entry draft by the Washington Capitals, rifled home a quick shot from the slot at 4:46, beating U.S. goalie Al Montoya through the five-hole for the second power play marker in as many opportunities.

Team USA clawed its way back on power play goals from Robbie Schremp and Patrick O'Sullivan, but Sergei Shirokov gave the Russians the lead for good when he blasted a shot high to the glove side of Montoya at 16:01.

Malkin, the second overall pick in the 2004 NHL entry draft by the Pittsburgh Penguins, potted an insurance marker at 11:03 of the third, then proceeded to taunt the U.S. bench after celebrating with his teammates.


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