11-year-old Vitali Abramov was sitting in his house watching his country win gold at the 2011 World Juniors in Buffalo.
Now seven years later he’s in Buffalo representing Russia in the very same tournament.
“I remember watching and being like ‘O I have to play’,” Abramov said. “I’m so excited to part of this tournament.”
Abramov made himself part of the tournament Thursday afternoon as he scored the empty net goal in Russia’s 5-2 win over Switzerland in Group B preliminary action.
Fellow forward Klim Kostin led the way with two points including an assist on the go-ahead goal for Russia.
It was a welcomed win for the Russians who lost their first game to the Czech Republic on Tuesday.
“Obviously we needed to win badly today,” said Kostin, who was selected 31st overall by St. Louis in the 2017 NHL Draft.
Russia had a strong chance in the game’s first minute as Artyom Manukyan whiffed on a juicy rebound. Halfway through the period the power-play unit made up for it as Vladislav Syomin sent a hard shot from the point for the game’s first goal. The Russians carried the momentum through the rest of the period and controlled the puck for the remaining time.
The second period got off to a quick start as Swiss forward Marco Miranda sniped in a shot just nine seconds into play to tie the game. The goal gave Switzerland a boost and they began to get some pressure on the Russian net.
Russia began to take momentum as the period went on, they were helped by the back-to-back penalties by the Swiss giving them a two-man advantage for 52 seconds. Yet goalie Philip Wuthrich made save after save for the Swiss. Still, the Russians continued on and broke through as Kostin grabbed a rebound off a shot from Syomin to give Russia the 2-1 lead heading into the final stanza.
Switzerland knotted the game at two as Ken Jager powered his way to the net and slipped the puck by for the goal.
Kostin sent a beautiful lead-in pass to Artu Kayumov who went top shelf for the game-winning goal third goal with nine minutes to go.
Russia scored again with two minutes to go on a 2-on-1 rush that ended with the puck going in off the Swiss defender’s skate.
Wuthrich stopped 27 of 32 shots in the loss.
The Russian defense played strong overall only allowing 13 shots.
The Swiss fall to 1-0-1 in the tournament.
Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen only made six saves as Finland trounced over Denmark 4-1, to pick up their first win of the tournament Thursday.
Finland scored first when Joona Koppanen knocked it in off a pass from Juuso Valimaki less than three minutes into the game. A few minutes later, Eeli Tolvanen found Aapeli Rasanen giving Finland a 2-0 lead at the break.
Denmark got their first man-advantage early in the second period. They took advantage as Nikolaj Krag found the back of the net.
The Fins answered back late in the period as Valimaki scored. Henri Jokiharju grabbed a rebound off a shot from Koivula Otto bringing the Finland lead to 4-1 heading into the third period.
Demark shot themselves in the foot in the third period taking three penalties in the first seven minutes. Danish goalie Kasper KROG faced an onslaught of 62 shots in the losing effort.