An entertaining preliminary round is in the books. With Canada and the United States securing the top spots in each group we have the match-ups for the quarter-finals:
On paper, the Finland/Germany game should be the closest, but you never know what can happen. Russia has looked shaky at times and Germany has a full (and well-rested) roster. Could they pull off the upset? Could the US look ahead to their semi-final match and get tripped up by Slovakia? It’s all possible now that this is a single elimination tournament.
The teams will take New Year’s day off and return on Saturday with all four quarter-final games taking place. Should be a fun day!
Czech Republic 7, Austria 0
Another day and another 60+ shots faced by Sebastian Wraneschitz. In his three games the Austrian netminder faced 194 shots in 169 minutes of ice time. That’s a pretty impressive workload for anyone. On Thursday it was the Czech Republic firing shot after shot at the 18-year-old netminder. They had 61 shots on their way to a 7-0 victory as they get ready for the quarter finals. Martin Lang had two goals and an assist while Pavel Novak had a goal and two assists. Netminder Nick Malik (son of former NHL’er Marek Malik) stopped all 15 shots he faced.
Austria leaves the tournament having scored just one goal in four games but gained valuable experience. Since there is no relegation this year, they will be back next year looking to better their results. The Czechs rebounded from a tough loss to the United States to completely dominate this game. While their first two goals were disputable (despite being upheld by video review) they didn’t let up on the pressure and put the game away with 4 goals on 23 shots in the second period.
Nothing super exciting from this game so lets enjoy some of Wraneschitz’s finer moments.
Canada 4, Finland 1
For the first forty minutes of the game, Canada absolutely dominated this game. They racked up a 35-7 shot advantage, a 3-0 lead, and limited the Finns to the occasional foray into the offensive zone.
Finland’s best chance to win this game was to withstand the Canada offense, counter attack, force turnovers, and establish a fore check. The Canadians wanted no part of that plan and refused to allow the Finns to touch the puck in the first period. The only reason they weren’t up by six or seven goals was the play of Kari Piiroinen. He finished with 36 saves on 39 shots.
There was a spark of life for Finland in the third period as Brad Lambert scored on the power play early on. They pressed and outshot Canada 12-5 in the final frame, but couldn’t get closer than 3-1. Dylan Cozens buried an empty netter with under three minutes to go to ice the game. He had two goals on the night.
Canada looks to be firing on all cylinders as they head into the quarter-finals. The only blemish on the night was forward Alex Newhook leaving in the first period with an apparent shoulder injury.
USA 4, Sweden 0
It was not a great night for Tampa Bay Lightning prospect Hugo Alnefelt. He surrendered two goals less than four minutes into the game, both from bad angles, and eventually was pulled in the second after being tagged for four goals. He never really looked comfortable in net and his teammates weren’t much better in front of them.
Drew Helleson puts USA on the board early on! pic.twitter.com/bUda8RF4ZX— TSN (@TSN_Sports) January 1, 2021
For the USA, it was a completely different story. Spencer Knight posted his second straight shutout and the team as a whole hasn’t allowed a goal in their last three games. Whatever issues plagued them against Russia in the opening game are seemingly long forgotten. With the 4-0 win they claim the top spot in Group B and keep the hope of a Canada/United States final alive.
Trevor Zegras continued his rampage through the tournament by racking up another 3 points (1 goal, 2 assists). The Ducks prospect ended the preliminary round as the top scorer with 13 points (6 goals, 7 assists), two more than Canda’s Dylan Cozens. Alex Turcotte also had two points for the US in the game.
Despite being outplayed for most of the first period the Swedes had a chance to get back into the game early in the second period. Down 3-0, they were awarded a penalty shot after Jackson Lacombe was called for hooking on a breakaway. They choose to have Victor Soderstrom attempt the shot and he was staring at an open net after faking out Knight. Unfortunately the puck rolled off the tip of his stick and he couldn’t finish the move. Turcotte scored twenty seconds later and the game was all but over.
There are no games. Give your eyes a rest from hockey. Things will ramp back up on Saturday.