They swarmed their goaltender almost before his mask had settled on the ice after the shootout, hugging and smiling and celebrating something none of them have seen often in their young lives — a big Russian win at the world junior championship.
They played through intense fatigue against a well-rested opponent on Monday, emerging with an unlikely 4-3 semifinal win over Sweden at HSBC Arena. They booked passage to the championship game with the win, giving Russia a chance at its first title since 2003.
“With our win, we will give a huge boost to Russian hockey,” Russian forward Yevgeni Kuznetsov said through an interpreter. “More money will be attracted for Russian hockey, for children. We need to build more skating rinks. Just look at Canada, how many skating rinks they have. So I hope this will improve the situation.”