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Match with US at 2017 IIHF World Championship crucial for Russia — coach

May 16, 16:16 UTC+3 MOSCOW

The Russian national ice hockey team defeated Latvia 5-0 on May 15

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© Alexandr Demyanchuk/TASS

MOSCOW, May 16. /TASS/. Russian national ice hockey team’s Head Coach Oleg Znarok says he views tonight’s game between his squad and Team USA at the 2017 IIHF (International Ice Hockey Federation) World Championship as the most important within the frames of this year global tournament’s group stage.

Speaking at a news conference after last night’s game, where Russia routed Latvia 5-0, Znarok said that he had been preoccupied with the Tuesday evening game against the US team, while he was giving instructions to his players during the encounter with powerful Latvia.

"We all kept in mind that the major game would be tomorrow and this is why we played in short bursts during the third period in order to stay in shape for Tuesday’s match," Znarok said.

"The most important thing for us is to finish the group stage on top," Znarok, who led the national team to the world champions’ title in 2014, said. "We are preparing for this match (against Team USA) and studying our opponent."

Russia’s ice hockey team, dubbed the ‘Red Machine,’ started this year’s global tournament with an nail-biting penalty shootout win over Sweden (2-1) to proceed further with confident victories over Italy (10-1), Germany (6-3), Denmark (3-0), Slovakia (6-0) and Latvia (5-0).

Boasting an impressive record of 32 scored and five missed goals, the Russians are scheduled to meet the American team later in the day at the stadium in Germany’s Cologne to wrap up its group stage voyage to the knock-out period of the global ice hockey championship. Both teams have already qualified for the next round of the world championship.

Team USA is trailing Russia in their Group A packing a record so far of 26 scored and 11 missed goals after winning five and losing just one of six matches in the run-up to its encounter with the ‘Red Machine.’

The 2017 IIHF tournament is held in Germany’s Cologne at its 18,500-seat Lanxess Arena and in the French capital at the Bercy 14,500-seat venue from May 5 through May 21, 2017.

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