Grigorenko comes through as Russians top Swiss

Mikhail Grigorenko had a big game Wednesday, scoring his first goal of the tournament and helping force OT in the final minute of regulation as Russia advanced to the semifinal of the 2013 World Junior Championship with a hard-fought 4-3 win over Switzerland. Grigorenko, who was named player of the game for Team Russia, will again be counted on to be a driving force for Team Russia as they square off with Sweden Thursday in a rematch of last year’s gold medal game

With the score knotted at 1-1, Grigorenko went to the net with his stick down and buried a backhand from the low slot to give the Russians a 2-1 lead at 9:07 of the second period. The Swiss would answer back three-and- a half minutes later to deadlock the game at two apiece at the second intermission.

After the Swiss took a 3-2 late in the third, Grigorenko embraced the challenge by logging loads of ice time down the stretch. It appeared that he had converted his second goal of the game with a hard drive to the net with two minutes left to play, but the goal was immediately waved off with the net getting knocked off it's pegs before the puck went in. The 6-foot-2 centerman would keep at it, setting up Nikita Kucherov on the subsequent power play for the game-tying goal with 1:39 to play.

Following a scoreless 10-minute overtime, Grigorenko would be tabbed in the shootout, missing on his first opportunity but burying his second on a nice forehand deke before Kucherov followed up with eventual winner.

Props to Switzerland, by the way. It’s amazing what that country has done in building a solid national program over the last 10 years.

Bigger props to Grigorenko, though, who was “the man” for his team when they needed it most. He went hard all game, created pressure around the net, and produced in the clutch. Not bad for an “enigmatic” player who slipped all the way to 12th in the 2012 draft.

Russia faces Sweden Thursday for the right to play for gold.
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