The World Junior Championship produces a number of highlight-reel plays every tournament because of the best-on-best nature of the games, but Belarusian goaltender Ivan Kulbakov may have made the most notable play of the 2016 competition thanks to a bizarre decision Sunday.
Belarus was trailing Slovakia 3-2 late in Sunday’s game when Kulbakov was taken out of the net for an extra attacker. With 25 seconds remaining, however, Slovakia had managed to break out of their zone and head towards the empty Belarus net. It was then Kulbakov made the incredibly confusing decision to hop back onto the ice — creating a too many men penalty against Belarus — to charge at Slovakia’s Juraj Siska in an attempt to break up the empty net try.
Instead, Kulbakov fell awkwardly and appeared to injure his right leg while Siska skated around the downed netminder:
Because of Kulbakov’s strange attempt, Siska missing the empty net didn’t really matter: the officiating crew awarded Slovakia with the empty-net goal, though it was still credited to Siska.
Kulbakov had to be helped off the ice after what had been an outstanding game for the 19-year-old netminder. He made 35 saves and was named Belarus’ player of the game for the second straight game. There are no reports on the severity of his injury, but it didn’t look good and seems unlikely he’ll be starting in goal Tuesday when Belarus plays Russia.
(Video via Hetrik.sk)