Kazakhstan defeats defending World Ice Hockey Champions Finland

NUR-SULTAN – The Kazakh national ice hockey team surprised defending champion Finland with unprecedented success and a final score of 2-1 at the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) Men’s World Championship in the Latvian capital Riga, reports the IIHF press service.

Kazakh goalkeeper Nikita Boyarkin made 50 saves throughout the game against Finland. Photo credit: IIHF.

Despite an intense first half, the score was not opened until the middle of the second period by Finland’s Anton Lundell. The advantage did not last long, because after just two minutes Kirill Panyukov equalized the score. The defending champion exerted a lot of pressure and bombarded his opponent’s doors with insistence and skill, but Kazakhstan held on.

While many predicted an easy win for Finland, both teams failed to change the score for the remainder of the game leading to a final shootout. Kazakh team captain Roman Starchenko, Curtis Valk and Nikita Mikhailis pulled off the shootout, while goalkeeper Nikita Boyarkin saved the attempts of Finns Teemu Turunen, Arttu Ruotsalainen and Jere Karjalainen.

Boyarkin’s stamina on the ice and his excellent job in the shootout earned him a Hero of the day title in the championship. “The matches were hard fought and our goalkeeper [Boyarkin] obviously played amazing today, ”said Valk after his team’s victory.

With the team’s first victory over Latvia with a score of 3-2, this is the national team’s best performance at the world championships. The last time Kazakhstan played in the Premier League was in 2016. At the time, the squad in the group could only score two points and win once in overtime. Kazakhstan has also lost the three previous World Championship meetings with Finland (4-0 in 1998, 4-1 in 2012, 4-3 in 2014).

Kazakhstan will face Germany in the next round. Photo credit: IIHF.

The world championship kicked off on May 21 and will run until June 6. This is the first championship since the start of the pandemic, with last year’s tournament ultimately being canceled. This year also marks a new format for the championship as neither team will be eliminated from next year’s tournament based on their performance this year.

While Kazakhstan didn’t face the added pressure of eliminating the tournament, it was no easy task being placed in a strong squad with opponents like the United States, Canada and Germany. . The sensational victory over Finland already increases Kazakhstan’s chances of fighting for a higher place at the final table in its group, although its chances of making the play-offs are still considerably low. Nonetheless, without its two prominent players, Nigel Dawes and Henrik Karlsson, making the roster this year, the national team could seize the opportunity to offer more learning opportunities to their new, younger generation of players.

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