Another day, another victory

DEC.29 -- Team Russia registered its third straight victory Sunday Night beating hopeless Belarussians 5-1 on the ice of Sydney's Centre 200. Russia's second unit of Igor Grigorenko, Andrei Taratukhin and Alexander Perezhogin combined for three of the five goals to lead the offense.

Vladimir Melenchuk's side delivered its best effort of the tournament but despite getting solid goaltending from Dmitry Kamovich along with half dozen power-play opportunities failed to compete at even terms with Rafail Ishmatov's gems.

Belarus took advantage of Russia's lack of discipline to outshoot them 11 to 5 in the opening period. However back-up netminder Konstantin Barulin provided Russia with solid effort managing several great saves, while his team-mates enjoyed the intermission with a two goals caution thanks to early tallies by Alexei Kaigorodov and Alexander Perezhogin.

Andrei Kostitsyn, the only Belorussian with a fair shot at the top two rounds of the 2003 NHL entry draft, finally had a solid game at the tournament and aside from scoring Belarus' loan goal generated the majority of their scoring opportunities.

Grigorenko, Taratukhin and Alexander Polushin rounded up the scoring for Russia in this game.

Nikolai Zherdev recorded his first point of the tourney - an assists on Kaigorodov's tally in the opening period. In spite of receiving limited ice-time (played over 11 minutes vs Slovakia and around 14 vs Belarus) Red Army gem performed significantly better in two week-end games.

Russia's two North American based players Timofei Shishkanov and Evgeny Artyukhin continue to play with solid intensity, but there's simply no thinking in their game. Alexander Golovin or Albert Vishnyakov and Oleg Minakov would have been much better contributors alongside Dmitry Pestunov.

RHI three stars
1. Alexander Perezhogin
2. Alexei Kaigorodov
3. Konstantin Barulin

In Sunday's other contest it took Team Canada half of the game to solve German tactics, including some stellar goaltending from Kazakhstan born Dmitry Pätzold. Mark Habscheid team's weaknesses were exposed at large in this contest. It appears (Jordin) Tootoo isn't as scary and ducks almost as well as the Swedes did last Thursday when you hit him hard a couple of times early in the game.

One may notice that Canadians didn't impress Russia's leading scorer Yuri Trubachev, as he mentioned in an interview to Russian press: "I saw both of their games on TV. They played well, but there was nothing exceptional and spectacular in their game. I think we can beat them."

-- Max Dostoevsky