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Russian sports chief says national ice hockey team has potential for stronger performance

The "Red Machine" is facing the national squad of the United States in the quarterfinals of the 2019 IIHF World Championship

MOSCOW, May 22. /TASS/. The Russian national ice hockey team has delighted its fans with positive moments at the 2019 IIHF World Championship, but the recent match against Sweden showed that the team should improve its performance, Russian Sports Minister Pavel Kolobkov said on Wednesday.

The Russian national ice hockey team roamed undefeated into the playoff stage of the 2019 IIHF (International Ice Hockey Federation) World Championship after winning all of its seven group stage matches. The team played its final group stage match against long-time rivals Sweden on Tuesday night defeating the reigning World Champions 7-4.

"This is only the end of the group stage of the championship and the round of playoffs is a completely different matter," Kolobkov said.

In the match against Sweden on Tuesday, Russia allowed ‘Tre Kronor’ to score one goal and take the lead in the opening period, however, the Russians netted six unanswered goals in the middle period. The Russian team scored one more goal in the third period, but the Swedish squad answered with three goals.

"Our team has displayed numerous positive moments in their play, but there is still a place for further improvement and the third period against the Swedish team speaks for itself," the Russian sports minister added.

The Russian national ice hockey team, known as the ‘Red Machine,’ is facing the national squad of the United States in the quarterfinals of the 2019 IIHF World Championship. The match is scheduled to start at 4:15 p.m. local time (17:15 Moscow time) on May 23 in Bratislava.

The other quarterfinal matches on May 23 paired Sweden against Finland, while Canada will take on Switzerland, and the Czech Republic is set to meet with 2018 Olympic Vice Champions Germany.

The 2019 IIHF World Championship is hosted by Slovakia between May 10 and 26. The participating teams were divided into Groups A and B. Group A played matches in Slovakia’s Kosice and included hosts Slovakia, Canada, the United States, Finland, Germany, Denmark, France and Great Britain.

Group B played matches in Bratislava and enlisted teams from Sweden, Russia, the Czech Republic, Switzerland, Norway, Latvia, Austria and Italy.

Canada finished in the top of Group A with 18 points and was followed by quarterfinalists Finland (16 points), Germany (15 points) and the United States (14 points).

Group B was crowned by Russia with 21 points (seven straight wins). The Red Machine was followed by the Czech Republic (18 points), Sweden (15 points), Switzerland (12 points), Latvia (nine points), Norway (six points), Italy (two points) and Austria (one point).

Slovakia has offered two venues for hosting matches of the championship and they are the capital of Bratislava and the country’s second largest city of Kosice. Each city was assigned with hosting 28 matches of the group stage as well as two quarterfinals.

The semifinals, the final and the match for the bronze will be played in Bratislava at the over 10,000-seat capacity Ondrej Nepela Arena. Kosice, which has a population of 240,000, has offered the over 8,300-seat capacity Steel Arena.