Throughout the World Juniors tournament, we’ll be keeping track of all the action and bringing you all of the results in one place.
Russia vs. Germany
Yesterday was quarterfinal day at long last, and we kicked off a jam-packed day with a matchup between Russia and and a German team that’s struggled some in this tournament for a myriad of reasons, but has certainly looked more competitive since being able to, well, ice a complete lineup. But Russia came out with the early jump in this one, and had a chance to pull into the lead very early, with a chance on the power play not even four minutes into the game. But no matter, they had momentum building and even down a man at the nine minute mark, Russia forced a breakout on the penalty kill and Vasili Ponomaryov was sent off on a breakaway and was able to pick up a shorthanded goal.
It wasn’t like the floodgates were opening after that first goal—though they were able to extend their lead to two in the second period with another goal on the rush from Danil Bashkirov—as Germany kept to their game plan, keeping Russia to the outside and emphasizing blocking shots. They kept themselves in the game until they could get themselves on the board—it was a goal by Florian Elias 3:43 into the third period—and make things really interesting. Germany still had some push in them through the third period, and Elias very nearly tied the game up for them, but the Russians proved too difficult to solve for a second time. Germany was shut down through the remainder of the frame, and Russia was able to come away with the win.
Final: Russia 2 - Germany 1
Next game up (RUS): Jan. 4, 6:00 ET vs. Canada
Finland vs. Sweden
Next up, we revisited an old rivalry between Sweden and Finland, two powerhouses who had hit a bit of a snag in the end of the preliminary round. Sweden found the early edge in play in this one, keeping the Finns back on their heels, and were able to pick up two goals in the first period, with a shorthanded tally of their own from Lucas Raymond, and a pretty nifty between the legs power play goal from Elmer Soderblom.
It was looking for a moment like Sweden might be able to run away with this one, but just like that, their momentum was halted just as quickly as they found it. Finland came out for the second period and just seemed to be giving the Swedes fits, bringing speed where the Swedes just didn’t seem to have any. Finland got on the board just past the five minute mark of the second period on a goal from Henri Nikkanen. And then they looked to have tied things up just minutes later, but the goal was challenged for offsides and it came back. But momentum was already swinging well back in their favor, and while the Swedes seemed to get a little bit back in the third period, they just didn’t have it. Finland picked up two more goals in the third period, with a power play goal for Anton Lundell and then, just as it was looking like were were going to coast into overtime and the Swedes would get another chance to reset, Roni Hirvonen scored with just 25 seconds remaining to ice the game. And Finland was moving on to the semi-finals.
Final: Finland 3 - Sweden 2
Next game up (FIN): Jan. 4, 9:30 ET vs. USA
Canada vs. Czech Republic
Our third game of the day was sure to be an interesting one—Canada was coming off of a decisive win over Finland in their final game of the preliminary round and looking to bring that momentum with them, but they were set to face off against a Czech team whose style had given some of the powerhouse teams trouble. Canada grabbed the early edge in momentum, though, striking twice in the first period with goals from Dylan Cozens and Bowen Byram, both of which were shots that goaltender Nick Malik initially looked to have control of, but then saw dribble through him. The Czechs weren’t going away quietly, though, and as Canada seemed to let off the gas after that second goal, the Czechs took advantage and started pulling momentum back in their favor, peppering them with chances through the end of the period but still struggling to break through.
The second period was, in a word, listless. The Czechs still struggled to get too much going offensively, still couldn’t find a way to beat Devon Levi, but the Canadians were facing their own struggles, and while they were looking to hit another gear to dominate this game and really put it away, that next gear proved elusive. The third period followed in much the same way, but the Czechs put some more pressure on as the period progressed, and got a few close looks when they pulled their goalie with just over five minutes to go. It was all for naught, it would turn out, as the Canadians forced a breakout and Connor McMichael picked up the empty net goal. And that was all she wro—oh wait we’ve got a power play. 1:58 to go and the Czechs got a power play. They got a bit of a cycle going, but couldn’t really put together a whole lot of pressure. No goal. And that was all she wrote.
Final: Canada 3 - Czech Republic 0
Next game up (CAN): Jan. 4, 6:00 vs. RUS
USA vs. Slovakia
And finally we made it to the end of the day and the 10:30 game, with neither a blowout nor and upset coming so far in the day, so if we were expecting at least one of those in the quarterfinals, well, some of us might have been a little nervous.
The Slovaks came into this one looking to stick to their defensive style and limit the number of quality chances that they gave the US to work with, but the Americans found some early success against it, all the same. They got some help with a power play in the middle of the first period which allowed Arthur Kaliyev to get them on the board, but discipline was an issue for them as well—as we hadn’t really seen in the preliminary round. The US took three penalties in the first 25 minutes of the game, and were working pretty efficiently to break down their own momentum and allow the Slovaks to hang around in this one. But despite these issues, the Americans’ skill took over more often than not, and they picked up two goals in the second period from John Farinacci and Cole Caufield on a 5-on-3 power play.
But a pretty brutal breakdown in the defensive zone, where no one picked up the open Slovak player and left Matej Kaslik wide open for a chance on Spencer Knight got Slovakia on the board before the end of the period. So, a bit of a mixed bag, still.
The third period saw the Slovaks still hanging around, and things got really interesting when a bit of a breakdown on the penalty kill opened up a chance for them, and they took it. Dominik Sojka got them back within one, and suddenly we had a game again. And maybe this was a wake up call for the US, because they seemed to buckle down some more through the end of the period. They responded well to the Sojka goal, and Farinacci was able to restore their two-goal lead with a nice sort of wraparound move just under six minutes later. The Slovaks tried to mount another comeback, but struggled to get possession and get their goalie pulled, and even then the chances weren’t really coming for them. Matthew Beniers picked up the empty netter with a minute and 24 seconds remaining, and the US seemed to escape a quagmire of their own making.
Final: USA 5 - SVK 2
Next game up (USA): Jan. 4, 9:30 ET vs. FIN