1.01.2012

2012 IIHF World Junior Championships - Day 5 Recap

Photo via HHOF-IIHF Images
The preliminary round of the 2012 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship ended with a bang, as all four games, three of which were crucial to determine medal round seeding and what teams would end up in relegation, were filled with interesting twists and turns. The final standings for Groups A & B, with the medal round seeding as well:

GROUP A

TEAM
GP
W
OTW
OTL
L
GD
PTS
STATUS
1.
SWE
4
2
2
0
0
15
10
1ST SEED
2.
RUS
4
3
0
1
1
18
10
2ND SEED
3.
SVK
4
2
0
0
2
-6
6
3RD SEED
4.
SUI
4
1
0
1
2
-4
4
RELEGATION
5.
LAT
4
0
0
0
4
-23
0
RELEGATION

GROUP B

TEAM
GP
W
OTW
OTL
L
GD
PTS
STATUS
1.
CAN
4
4
0
0
0
21
12
1ST SEED
2.
FIN
4
3
0
0
1
9
9
2ND SEED
3.
CZE
4
2
0
0
2
1
6
3RD SEED
4.
USA
4
1
0
0
3
1
3
RELEGATION
5.
DEN
4
0
0
0
4
-32
0
RELEGATION

Recaps:


FINLAND (4) vs. CZECH REPUBLIC (0)
Photo via HHOF-IIHF Images
As predicted, Team Finland got plenty of time on the powerplay in their final preliminary round game against Team Czech Republic, getting 8 chances on the man advantage. Though they only scored once on the PP, they made up for it with three even strength goals, good enough to down the Czechs 4-0. Czech goalie Petr Mrazek was not able to match his heroics from Friday against Team USA, as he let in 4 goals on just 28 shots. Meanwhile, Finnish goalie Sami Aittokallio, making his 2nd start of the tournament after downing Team USA on Wednesday, was perfect in net. He stopped all 36 shots the Czechs sent his way to pick up the shutout victory. With the win, Team Finland clinched the 2nd seed in Group B, and will face the 3rd seed from Group A in the quarterfinals. 

SLOVAKIA (6) vs. SWITZERLAND (4)
Photo via HHOF-IIHF Images
Up 4-2 early in the third period, Team Switzerland looked set to move on to the medal round as the 3rd seed from Group A and face Team Finland in the quarterfinals. Somehow, however, Team Slovakia found it in them to come back - and come back they did. The Slovaks scored 4 goals in a 5 minute span in the third period to put them up 6-4, the total which would stand as the final score. Center Matus Chovan had the hat trick for Team Slovakia, and right wing Tomas Jurco (a Detroit Red Wings 2nd round pick from 2011) added 4 assists, including primary assists on both of the final two goals. Switzerland heads to the relegation round, while Slovakia moves on to play Finland in the quarterfinals.

CANADA (3) vs. USA (2)
Photo via HHOF-IIHF Images
In a matchup in which the only thing on the line was pride, Team Canada finished their offensive production within the first 15 minutes of the game, scoring three goals before holding on for the win against Team USA. Team USA once again failed to produce significant offensive numbers, as they scored only 2 goals on 32 shots, bringing their tournament total to 16 (with 11 coming in the first game against Denmark). The Americans can now look forward to facing Latvia in the relegation rounds, while Canada moves on to the semifinals, easily the top team in the tournament. 

SWEDEN (4) vs. RUSSIA (3), OT
Photo via HHOF-IIHF Images
In what promised to be a battle of two of the top teams in the 2012 WJC, Team Sweden did not disappoint, completing the comeback from a 3-0 hole against Team Russia to win 4-3 in overtime with Joakim Nordström scoring his 4th goal of the tournament. Russia looked set to win after Ivan Telegin scored the 3rd goal just 13:33 into the 1st off a shorthanded breakaway, but Sweden responded with 3 goals in the 3rd, following a scoreless 2nd. Russian captain Evgeny Kuznetsov, coming off a monumental 9 point performance against Latvia on Thursday, was nowhere to be seen on the scoresheet, as the Swedes held both him and Nikita Gusev pointless. Russian goalie Andrei Vasilevski, who had been perfect up to this game, let in all 4 goals, though he still managed a .927 save percentage. Team Sweden badly outshot Team Russia, 55-26, including an embarrassing 23-4 shot advantage in the 3rd period and OT. Sweden now receives a bye to the semifinals, while Russia will play the Czech Republic in the quarterfinals.

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