The Czech Republic has won the first stage of the Euro Hockey Tour – the Karjala Cup – by beating Russia 2-1 in the tournament's final game.
Russia coach Zinetulla Bilyaletdinov left his NHL stars on the bench for the event in Finland, giving a chance for younger players to take the ice.
The Czechs had two powerplay chances is the opening period and took advantage of both, with Zbynek Irgl and Jiri Tlusty upsetting goalie Konstantin Barulin to make the score 2-0.
Russia’s Evgeny Medvedev got one back in the second 20 minutes, while his team had an extra player on the ice.
But the Russians couldn’t make their way past keeper Ondrej Pavelec again, going down with a final score of 2-1.
The Czechs took the Karjala Cup with an undefeated winning streak at the tournament.
Meanwhile, Russia left the Finnish city of Turku in third place, after winning just one out of three games.
But the Bilyaletdinov was far from dramatizing the situation, finding plenty of positive moments in his team’s play.
“In general, I’m satisfied with the game,” Russia’s coach told Sport-Express. “I liked how the guys did their job. Of course, the two goals we conceded in the first period could’ve been avoided. Irgl’s goal came due to lack of understanding in our defense. And the second Czech goal was just an accident, as the puck went in from the defender’s stick. But the players fulfilled the task we set before them. Now I see the dynamics and the guys’ ability to make the right decisions in a fast game.”