Alexander Sharov celebrates his second goal in the semi-final win against Sweden. Photo: Andre Ringuette / HHOF-IIHF Images
Third-line forward surprised Sweden and wants more
It was his two goals that led Russia to a 4-1 semi-final win over Sweden. But who is Alexander Sharov? He’s suddenly gone from the third line to the spotlight.
The 19-year-old, competing in his first IIHF tournament, seemed surprised himself when he became Russia’s man of the match and was in demand with the international media after the game.
“I just shot twice and the puck went into the net both times. Maybe I had some kind of luck,” Sharov said modestly.
The forward grew up in Moscow and spent most of his career there. It was his parents who decided he would play hockey, he said. A good decision. He worked his way up through the CSKA Moscow hockey school and was among the scoring leaders on his team in some age groups. He also played tournaments with the U16, U17 and U18 national teams.
After two years for CSKA’s U20 team, Krasnaya Armia, in the MHL (the top junior league), he left home after being traded to Lada Togliatti, which has just returned to the KHL this season. For most of the time he managed to stay with the senior team, scoring two goals and one assist in 25 games in the league that is often considered the second-best one after the NHL.
At these World Juniors he’s amassed five points in six games – four goals and an assist. And he stepped up when all eyes were on the Russian team in a do-or-die semi-final match-up against Sweden. With that win, plus the one against the Americans in the quarter-finals, the Russians have more than made up for their mediocre preliminary-round showing.
“It was a matter of scoring,” Sharov said about the difference between the preliminary-round loss against Sweden and the win against the same opponent on Sunday.
“In the first game we had chances and didn’t score, this time we scored four goals. Russia had an advantage in both games. The coach gave us the task to play hard and disciplined and we tried to realize it.”
Russia will play host Canada in the gold medal game for the first time since 2011 when coach Valeri Bragin’s team defeated the “home” team in Buffalo in a dramatic and euphorically celebrated comeback victory.
“Russia-Canada is the most wanted hockey classic and everybody wants to see this game,” Sharov said, “but for us the opponent doesn’t matter. We are excited against whoever we play because it’s the final.”
For now, Sharov’s dream is to accept the gold medal after the final against Canada, and for the future he has even more dreams.
“Right now I’m playing in the KHL, but my dream is to win the Olympic Games and to try it in the NHL,” he said.