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2015 World Junior Hockey Championships: Quarterfinal Round Recap

By Skylar Peters
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On day 8 of the 2015 World Junior Hockey Championships, 8 teams became 4, as all four quarterfinal games took place on a snowy Friday in both Toronto and Montreal.

One team avenged a loss from a year ago, while another took down a consensus pick for the Gold or Silver medals. For another team, a shutout win signified the turning of the page, and for the hosts, a big win showed no signs of the team slowing down entering the medal round.

Emotionless, Undisciplined United States Thwarted By Russians 3-2

In the day’s first game, the United States and Russia would meet in the quarter-final round, after the Americans finished 2nd in Pool A, and the Russians fell to third in Pool B. Coming off a loss to Canada in their final preliminary game on New Years Eve, the Americans came out flat in the first period, taking 5 minor penalties. The Russians took full advantage, with Ivan Barbashev and Alexander Sharov both scoring in the first period, with the former coming just 150 seconds in, on the power-play.

The United States woke up in the second period, and proceeded to throw all of their offensive weight at Russian goalie Igor Shestyorkin. Anthony DeAngelo would find the net with a blast from the point on the power-play, and the Russians’ lead was cut to one entering the third period.

Once again, an early penalty cost the Americans, as Sergei Tolchinski’s shot bounced off a stick, hopped off the ice, and wound up behind American goalie Thatcher Demko, restoring the Russians’ two-goal lead. Zach Werenski scored for Team USA with over 11 minutes to go, but Shestyorkin held strong after that, and the Russians upset a Gold Medal favourite 3-2.

The Russian netminder finished with 39 saves, while Demko stopped 22 of 25.

Team USA’s quick exit has already raised questions about team selection, while some blame inconsistent officiating; after an emotional game against the Canadians where the officials kept the game a wide-open affair, a total of 14 minor penalties were called on Friday.

Blackhawks’ prospects Nick Schmaltz, Anthony Louis, Tyler Motte, and John Hayden all failed to find the score-sheet on Friday morning.

Swedes Exact Revenge On Finland With 6-3 Win

After falling in their homeland in overtime of the Gold Medal game to their Scandanavian rival one year ago, Friday’s game against Finland meant a lot more than just a berth in the tournament semi-finals for Team Sweden.

Indeed, the Swedes seemed to be a team on a mission on Friday, as they kept their foot on the gas for a full 60 minutes, eventually pulling away from the defending champions in a 6-3 victory.

After a scoreless, physical first period, the Finns struck first, as Jusso Ikonen opened the scoring just 81 seconds into the second period. The Swedes’ offense burst out following the initial goal, however, and three consecutive goals by Gustav Forsling, Lucas Wallmark, and  Adam Brodecki completely turned the tide of the game, by the 9-minute mark of the period. The Finns would rally, however, as goals by Mikko Rantanen and Kasperi Kapanen tied the game, and set a clean slate heading into the third period.

With the Finns taking two penalties in the final 11 seconds of the second period, including one at the 20:00 mark, Adrian Kempe delivered the eventual game-winner on the ensuing power-play. Goals from Oskar Lindblom, and an empty-netter from Wallmark sealed it, as the Swedes ended hopes of a repeat for Team Finland.

Ville Husso, a goaltender who many thought to be the best in the tournament, only managed to stop 24 of the 29 shots he faced, while his Swedish counterpart Linus Soderstrom made 30 saves.

The Swedes will take on Team Russia in the first quarter-final on Sunday at 3 PM Central Time.

Slovakia Makes Statement With Shutout Win Over Czech Republic

At the heart of national rivalries lies two countries that were formerly united, and two very similar hockey teams that met on Friday with a ton of pride on the line, as well as a chance to play for a medal.

Team Slovakia and Team Czech Republic, while not the flashiest of teams, delivered an exciting and close affair in their quarter-final match-up in a tight, emotional game.

Michal Kabac opened the scoring in the game with time winding down in the first period, as his shot went up and over Czech goalie Miroslav Svoboda and into the net.

That would be all the offense until the third period, although the Czechs wasted a trio of brilliant opportunities in the middle frame. Ondrei Kase hit the post on a short-handed break after a Slovak defenseman turned the puck over and subsequently stumbled as he back-pedalled. Two wide-open cages were missed after Czech forwards fanned on one-time opportunities.

That was all the luck the Slovaks needed in this game, as Denis Godla made 34 saves in a shutout win. Peter Cehlarik scored Slovakia’s second goal with just under 6 minutes remaining, and captain Martin Reway added an empty-net goal with nine seconds remaining.

The Slovaks will shoot for their second medal ever at the tournament, with the other, a Bronze, coming in 1999 on Canadian soil, in Winnipeg.

Team Canada Rolls, Dominates Denmark 8-0

With four of the deepest lines since the 2005 “Dream Team” that took home gold in Grand Forks, Team Canada made yet another offensive statement on Friday, rolling over Denmark in an expected quarter-final win at the Air Canada Centre.

The consensus #1 overall pick at the 2015 NHL Draft, Connor McDavid, lived up to the hype on Friday night, with a three-point game that included plenty of trips to the highlight reel. Literally.

McDavid’s pass to captain Curtis Lazar while falling down for the first goal of the game was the most memorable of moments for the Canadians from the game, but there were plenty of runners-up.

Lazar scored twice for Canada, while McDavid added a goal of his own to go along with two slick assists. Fellow 2015-draft eligible Lawson Crouse also found the net, while Nick Paul, Nick Ritchie, Sam Reinhart, and Brayden Point rounded out the scorers for Canada.

Canada didn’t have any offense from it’s blue-line, but the defense excelled in their own right, holding the Danes to 14 shots, all of which were stopped by goaltender Zach Fucale. Fucale now has allowed one goal in his three games at this tournament.

At the other end, the Danes got a collection of memorable saves from Georg Sorenson in a 32-stop performance, despite only lasting until the 6:46 mark in the third period. Thomas Lille stopped 10 of 11 in relief.

The Canadians will face Slovakia for a second time this tournament on Sunday at 6:30 PM CT, with a berth in the Gold Medal Game at stake. Canada won their tournament-opening match 8-0 on Boxing day.

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