Ukraine bounces back big
by Derek O'Brien|24 APR 2023
Ukraine #11 Andri Denyskin leads an offensive push into the Serbian zone. 
photo: IIHF / Catherine Kõrtsmik / Eesti Hoki

In a matchup of two teams that each earned a point in their first games yesterday, Ukraine got into the win column with a 7-0 victory over Serbia.

Vadym Mazur led the Ukrainian offence with two goals and two assists. With a goal and two assists, defender Igor Merezhko now leads the tournament with seven points. After entering yesterday’s game against China in relief and stopping seven of eight shots, Bogdan Dyachenko made 10 saves for the shutout.

“I think for the first 40 minutes or so, we did really well,” Serbian centre Marko Dragovic said about the game on his 22nd birthday. “We executed our plan. It was pretty much the same as yesterday – play defence and watch for counter-attacks but I think we just ran out of gas in the end.

“Congrats to Ukraine, they played very well.”

After Arsenije Rankovic’s busy game yesterday against Estonia, Akim Paladica was given the start against Ukraine but Serbia’s strategy remained the same – play stingy defence and wait for chances to counter-attack. It worked for the first period, in which Ukraine outshot Serbia 17-5, the most dangerous off the stick of defender Pylyp Pangelov-Yuldashev through traffic, hitting a screened Paladica.

“It was tough to find a way to score in the first period,” said forward Danil Trakht, who opened the scoring at 26:27. “We were just playing in their zone but we couldn’t find a way to score. But in the second and third periods we found a way to score.”

Trakht was streaking past the Serbian defence to the net when Mazur found his stick blade with a perfect pass.

“Of course it’s unbelievable,” the 20-year-old said about his first World Championship goal. “It was a 3-on-2 rush and Vadym made a great pass to me and I just had to score into the empty net.”

Just 2:20 later it was 2-0 when Ukraine struck on the power play. Paladica stopped Olexander Peresunko’s initial shot but was down and out as Mazur put in the rebound.

Serbia’s chances for a comeback were dealt a serious blow late in the second period when Mirko Djumic, who has scored the team’s last five World Championship goals dating back to last year, was assessed a major penalty and game misconduct for kneeing Yevgen Fedeyev. Fedeyev left the ice unable to put any weight on his right leg but returned in the third period.

“Obviously it was difficult because he’s our best player, but we tried to keep going and fighting for him,” said linemate Dragovic, who has assisted on all five of Djumic’s goals.

Ukraine broke it open in the third period. Mazur scored his second of the game by tucking it inside the near post to make it 3-0 and then power-play goals by Andri Denyskin and Peresunko made it 5-0 by the period’s halfway mark. Ukraine somewhat backed off the offence at that point but Denys Bordai and Merezhko added late goals to make the final score 7-0.

“It was a good game but we still made mistakes,” said Trakht. “We will watch the video and be ready for the next games.”

“It’s not the end for us, you know,” said Dragovic. “We’ve got three more games and we know we’re not the best team here, but we work hard and I don’t think anyone likes to play against us.”

Ukraine vs Serbia - 2023 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship Division I Group B