FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – Danil Gushchin had a hat trick, and added an assist for good measure, helping Russia stay perfect at the 2017 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge with a 6-4 win over Finland on Monday.
The Russians scored early and often in the first period, with Vasily Podkolzin getting the festivities started just 36 seconds in after a neutral zone turnover.
Gushchin got his first of the game at 9:57 on the power play, beating Finnish goaltender Kari Piiroinen through a maze of bodies, and added a second with a shorthanded effort less than six minutes later, going five-hole on Piiroinen to make it 3-0.
Veeti Miettinen responded for the Finns on that same power play, going to the backhand in close, but Matvey Guskov netted a fourth Russian goal of the opening frame at 18:45, knocking in a rebound.
Tomas Keinänen replaced Piiroinen to start the second period, and the change seemed to spark the Finns.
Patrik Puistola cut the deficit to two midway through the middle frame, letting go a shot that handcuffed Russian netminder Vladimir Sartakov, and Antti Saarela converted a penalty shot at 14:55, beating Sartakov to the glove side to make it a one-goal game.
But there would be no game-tying goal; Egor Afanasyev banked the rebound of a Gushchin shot off Keinänen and in to give the Russians some breathing room, and although Henri Nikkanen got that back for Finland with less than four minutes to go, Gushchin finished his hat trick into an empty net in the dying moments to provide the final margin of victory.
Russia will look to finish a perfect preliminary round Tuesday against Canada Red (7 p.m. MT), after Finland closes its round-robin schedule in a meeting with Sweden (2:30 p.m. MT).