Thursday, April 22, 2010

IIHF U18 5th Place & Relegation Round: Switzerland Finishes 5th, Plus Belarus & Latvia Relegated

The Swiss ended this year's U18 World Championship with their best finish since 2001 when they spuriously got all the way to the Silver Medal. Paired with their 4th Place Finish in the WJC back around the Christmas Holidays, the Swiss are hoping to use this as a springboard towards developing a stronger Junior Program and League which where you could see them in more events of different kinds plus getting a chance to medal in the U18 & WJC Championships in the near future.

The Czech Republic finished 6th place as they had their moments including edging out Slovakia and pushing Finland all the way to a shootout where a win would have improved their chances of coming out with a Medal.

On the other end, despite strong fan supports and hopes of pulling a shock. Latvia and Belarus will be sent down to the 2011 IIHF U18 Division 1 Tournament after playing in what was a Placement Game where Latvia won 5-4 in a SO to come out with their only win of this year's U18 World Championship. Unfortunately for Belarus, they will have to live with the shocking fact of finishing last at this year's event without a single win this year.

Despite the NHL Stanley Cup & AHL Calder Cup Playoffs going on right now. The IIHF Ice Hockey World Championships (IHWC) are just a few weeks away when they start on May 7 over in Colonge and Mannheim in Germany.

From the International Hockey Federation Website:

5th Place Game: Czech Republic 5 Switzerland 6 (0-1, 4-4, 1-1)

Czech Republic VS. Switzerland Game Photos:

In Minsk, Belarus: In a back-and-forth battle for 5th place, Switzerland came out on top with a 6-5 win against the Czech Republic. The Fifth-Place finish is Switzerland's best since 2001 when the team was the surprise Silver Medalist. The Sixth Place Finish for the Czech Republic is a repeat from last year's event.

There was no lack of action at the Palace of Sport Arena, especially in the 2nd period when the teams combined for 8 goals. Switzerland jumped out to a 1-0 lead at the end of the first period. The Swiss opened the 2nd period, jumping out to a 3-1 lead. The teams exchanged quick goals as Tomas Filippi brought the Czechs to within one, only to have his efforts erased less then a minute later when Dominic Lammer scored on an odd-man rush for the 4-2 goal.

The Offensive duel continued when the Czechs put in two goals coming a minute apart to tie the game at 4-4. Dominik Frk scored from point-blank range and Jrir Sekac took advantage of Swiss Goaltender Lukas Melil's poor position behind the net for the equalizer.

The high scoring period ended with a 5-4 Swiss Lead after Joel Vermin scored on a breakaway. He was tripped on his trip down the ice and landed in the net just behind the puck. Vermin struck again 3:08 into the third period with another crucial goal. The 6-4 marker gave the Swiss some breathing room needed they needed to weather a late comeback bid for the Czechs, who got a shorthanded goal in the last 34 seconds to bring the final to 6-5.

Relegation Round: Canada 4 Slovakia 2 (4-0, 0-1, 0-1)

Canada VS. Slovakia Game Photos:

In Bobruisk, Belarus: Canada limped to a 7th place finish at this year's World U18 Championship with a 4-2 win over Slovakia. The win somewhat salvaged the Canadians Disappointing tournament as they finished atop the relegation round group.

Both Canada and Slovakia will return to next year's U18 World Championship, both likely hoping to improve on this year's finish.

Canada put in 4 goals in the 1st period and didn't do much else through the end of the game. generating no additional offense for the next 40 minutes. Luckily for the Canadians, Slovakia was only able to put in 2 goals in response, one coming in the 2nd period and one more in the 3rd period. Slovakia ended this year's U18 World Championship in 8th Place.

Relegation Round: Belarus 4 Latvia 5 (SO) (1-1, 1-2, 2-1, 0-0, 0-1)

Belarus VS. Latvia Game Photos:

In Bobruisk, Belarus: Latvia and Belarus were both looking for their first win at this year's U18 World Championship and it was Latvia that earned bragging rights with a 5-4 SO Victory.

The Lead changed hands four times with the game-tying goal coming from Latvia with 4:07 left in regulation. The Goal forced the overtime and eventual shutout, which Zemgus Girgensons won for Latvia.

The Victory means that Latvia takes ninth place, while Belarus finishes tenth in the ten team tournament.

Both teams knew they were relegated entering the game, but nevertheless played an entertaining and competitive 60 minutes. Belarus went up 1-0 on the power-play only to have the lead erased 31 seconds later by a Latvian Marker.

Latvia continued to build it's momentum in the 2nd period, moving ahead to a 3-1 lead, but Belarus closed the stanza strong with a goal in the last 5 minutes to close the gap to one goal.

It was Belarus turn to come out strong in the third period. They reclaimed the lead with two goals in the first 6:13 of action to take a 4-3 advantage. The fans in Bobruisk sensed that this could be the day for their team's first win and urged Belarus on, but in the waning moments of the Game, Latvia's Kristians Pelss put in the 4-4 goal to force OT and SO.

Here's the Tournament Placement from 5th through 10th. Plus the 2 Teams that won Promotion for the 2011 U18 World Championship.

5th Place: Switzerland

6th Place: Czech Republic

7th Place: Canada

8th Place: Slovakia

9th Place: Latvia

10th Place: Belarus

Promoted from Division 1A: Norway

Promoted from Division 1B: Germany

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