The round robin stages have already ended at the World Juniors and the teams are gearing up for the knockout stage which begins tomorrow. All three Jets prospects are advancing as Sweden, USA, and Finland finished 1st, 2nd, and 3rd in their group. Here is a recap of the action from the past couple days.
There were only two games on the schedule on day five with Switzerland and Russia facing off in the first match. Switzerland was hoping for a victory which would put them third in the group behind Canada and Russia. This was an interesting game which provided one of the most bizarre plays in hockey history. Switzerland had a breakaway and one of the Russian players hauled him down. The Swiss player got back up before getting hauled down a second time in the same breakaway. The refs decided to give Switzerland two penalty shots on the exact same play.
— Robert Söderlind (@HockeyWebCast) December 31, 2018
Despite two straight penalty shots, Switzerland was unable to score. That shifted momentum and Russia ran away with the game in the third period to win 7-4.
The only other game of the day saw Slovakia destroy Kazakhstan 11-2 which sent Kazakhstan down to the relegation series.
New Year’s Eve showcased a few intriguing matches with all three Jets prospects and team Canada playing.
The day began with Czech Republic beating Denmark 4-0. This gave the Czechs third place in the group and sent Denmark to the relegation series against Kazakhstan.
The second game had Sweden beating Kazakhstan 4-1. Sweden scored three goals in the first period and then slowed down to give some of their top players more rest. They cruised to the victory with first place in group B locked up. David Gustafsson had one assist, two PIM, four shots, and was a +2 in 19:19. Gustafsson’s assist came off a clean faceoff win where he drew it straight back to Sandin who one timed it through the Kazakhstan goalie. You can see it at the 4:20 mark of the highlights.
The third game of the day is what everyone was waiting for, a classic matchup featuring Canada and Russia. Neither team had been truly tested up until this point and the number one seed in group A was on the line. Canada got off to a great start, just like usual and scored two minutes in to take an early lead. Russia struck back just three minutes later to tie the game at one. Normally these types of games are high scoring, especially with the talent between both teams.
In this case, neither team could score a goal as they went the rest of the first period, and all second period without scoring. In the third, things started to pick up as both teams were searching for the winning goal. Russia was able to score with nine minutes left as Shen made a beautiful move around the defense and tucked it past DiPietro on a deke. Canada was chasing the game from there and Russia did a great job of keeping Canada to the outside of the crease. Canada was unable to score the tying goal with the net empty and Russia emerged victorious by a score of 2-1.
The last game of the day had major implications in the knockout stage. With Canada losing and finishing second in group A, they are set to play third place in group B. The USA and Finland came into the game with the winner finishing second and the loser finishing third. Neither team wanted to play Canada in the first round of playoffs so both were looking for a victory.
The US got off to a solid start as they led 1-0 after the first period. They kept it coming in the second as they added two more goals to go up 3-0 heading into the third. The USA pulled off a big comeback against Sweden just a few days ago, but they didn’t let it happen against them as they scored again in the third and won the game 4-1. Samberg played big minutes for the USA and finished third on the team in ice time with 21:21. He didn’t find the scoresheet but added two shots on goal.
Santeri Virtanen only had one shot on net but finished the game as a +1. This might not sound impressive, but only two players on the entire Finnish team were +1 for the game, Talvitie and Virtanen.
With the group stage now over, it’s time to move on to the playoffs. All three Jets prospects are involved and so is team Canada. It’s going to be an exciting day of hockey tomorrow as every single team is back in action.
Wednesday at #WorldJuniors
2 pm ET – ????? in Vancouver
Game 1 in Best of 3 relegation series
4 pm ET – ????? in Victoria
6:30 pm ET – ????? in Vancouver
TSN 1⃣/3⃣/4⃣/5⃣ & 4⃣K
8 pm ET – ????? in Victoria
10:30 pm ET – ????? in Vancouver
— Mark Masters (@markhmasters) January 1, 2019