Monday, January 29, 2007

Russia Defeats Finland in First Marquee Matchup of WC

KEMEROVO, Russia -- A couple of heavyweights faced off for the first time at this year's world championships, and not surprisingly, heavily favored Russia skated past Finland 9-5.

Dynamo Moscow's Yury Pogrebnoy opened the scoring just three minutes in, and club teammate Sergei Obukhov scored his first of three goals in this game - giving him nine for the tournament - in the 10th minute. Sami Laakkonen of Zorky Krasnogorsk cut the lead in half, but by the end of the period, Russia held a 4-1 advantage after Obukhov rounded off his hat trick.

After extending their lead to 7-2 (Mikko Aarni scored again for the Finns), Finland mounted somewhat of a comeback beginning in the 72nd minute. IFK Helsinki's Mika Mutikainen started the rally, and he was followed up by goals from Bollnas' Ville Aaltonen and Laakkonen. By the 81st minute, Russia held a slim 7-5 lead.

But Dynamo's Sergei Lomanov and Kuzbass' Denis Kriushenkov killed the rally quickly, making the final score 9-5.

In other Group A games, Norway continued their skid, losing to Kazakhstan 11-4, and Sweden beat up on Belarus, 21-5.

In Group B, Latvia beat Hungary 7-0, the Netherlands beat Estonia 5-1, and the US won both its games in a double header, besting Mongolia 11-0 and Hungary 12-2 to climb to the top of the group standings.

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