Wednesday, April 14, 2010

IIHF U18WC Day 2: USA Comesback, Sweden & Russia Dominite

Day 2 saw a bit less drama but the top seeds were able to comeback. Especially the U.S.A. where just a day after Sweden beat them 4-2, the Americans were to fight off an early Swiss Surge, but a two goal performance by Austin Czarik helped the Americans find their grove to beat Switzerland 5-1 to even up their group stage record at 1-1 through 2 games.

Sweden & Russia continued their great starts with 7-0 & 9-0 wins over the big underdogs in Belarus & Latvia while the Czech Republic had to fight off a comeback attempt against arch rival Slovakia to win the Czechs first game of the tournament 4-3 over Slovakia, that win could be huge as many people saw that as the grudge match for 3rd place in Group A.

Tomorrow's matchup's will see some interesting matchup's as we could see which Swiss Team could emerge as the Swiss will play the Swedes. Slovakia will look to comeback against Finland while Canada and the Czech Republic will look to get over Belarus & Latvia as well.

From Jenny Wiedeke of the International Ice Hockey Federation:

Group A in Bobruisk

Sweden 7 Belarus 0 (0-0, 5-0, 2-0)

Sweden VS. Belarus Photos:

Thanks to a stellar 5 goal second period, Sweden stayed unbeaten at this year's U18 World Championship with a 7-0 thumping of host Belarus.

It was the opening game for the host nation, and the fans in Bobruisk turned out in droves, nearly selling out the modern arena. And while the fans may have been able to help stall the Swedish attack through a scoreless first period, there was little they, or the Belarusian team, could do the Swedes sparked to life in the 2nd period.

Sweden made up for the sluggish start with a lighting fast pair of goals to open the 2nd. Ludvig Rensfeldt scored both goals, with the first coming just 56 seconds into the period and the 2nd trailing three minutes later. The goal took a little spirit out of the near sell-out crowd.

Another quick duo of goals mid-period took Sweden out to a 4-0 lead. Both goals came on the power play as Sweden Capitalized on both extra-man chances of the period. Adam Larsson scored the 3-0 goal at 31:08 mark of the 2nd period, and it was followed by Max Friberg's marker two minutes later. Johan Larsson put in the 5-0 goal just moments later to make it a 5-0 lead Sweden Lead, effectively dashing any hopes that Belarus had for an opening game upset.

Johan Larsson put in his 2nd goal of the opening shift of the third period, while Erik Thorell made it 7-0 4 minutes later. Sweden out-shot Belarus 46-8.

Sweden is now in poll position to take first place in the group, although it still has two more preliminary round games. The first of those contests is on Friday against Switzerland. Belarus will look for its first win tomorrow against winless Canada.

Switzerland 1 U.S.A. 5 (1-1, 0-2, 0-2)

Switzerland VS. U.S.A. Photos:

It was harder then they would have liked, but in the end the U.S. was able to earn its first win at this years World U18 Championship with a 5-1 win against Switzerland.

Austin Czarik was the man of the hour for the Americans. He scored the first two goals which came a critical point when the U.S. needed momentum and stability.

The Americans were whistled for five minors in the first period and spent most of the period killing the Swiss Power Play. Despite having 10 minutes with the extra man, Switzerland scored once in the stanza - an-even-strength goal from Gregory Hofmann. The lead stood for only 27 seconds as Czarnik put in the equalizer, one of the few bright spots for the Americans in the period.

Czarnik struck again 4:01 into the 2nd to give the U.S.A. its first lead of the game. The goal settled the Americans down and got them into their game plan as they took only one penalty the entire period. Bill Arnold put in a late bonus goal in the last 15 seconds to give the Americans some breathing room at the intermission.

The U.S. Continued to steadily improve and by the end of the game were easily able to put the Swiss away with two 3rd period goals. Adam Clendening and Jason Zucker each got their first goals of the tournament to pull the Americans through to the 5-1 win.

Both teams stand with a 1-1 record after the first two game days and the day off tomorrow. On Friday, the U.S. will take on Canada, while Switzerland has Sweden.

Group B in Minsk

Czech Republic 4 Slovakia 3 (1-0, 2-0, 1-3)

Czech Republic VS. Slovakia Photos:

The Czech Republic and Slovakia finished neck-and-neck at last year's World U18 Championship in 6th and 7th place, but today, the Czech's were the superior team with a 4-3 win against the Slovaks.

The Closeness of the score was deceiving as the Czechs had the game well in hand through most of the 60 minutes until the Slovaks rallied late in the game. But Slovakia really didn't threaten for the win, with the 4-3 goal coming only with 5 seconds left in the game.

Slovakia lived dangerously the entire first period, spending much of the time down a man and defending in the own zone. The Penalty trouble finally caught up with them in the final 14 seconds of the period when Michal Vachovec put in a two man advantage goal to give the Czechs the slim 1-0 lead.

The Czech Republic's Petr Zamorsky picked right up where his team left off, scoring the 2-0 goal just 1:37 into the 2nd period. Martin Fyk put in the 3-0 goal before the midway mark of the game.

The Slovaks struggled after falling behind, but created a small spark of hope late in the 3rd period when Marek Tvrdon put in a quirky, odd bouncing goal just as a two man advantage expired. A pair of Dominik's exchanged goals in the waning minutes - Dominik Uher for the Czech's and Dominik Simcak for the Slovaks - to make it a 4-2 affair.

The Slovaks pulled off goaltending Dominik Riecicky in favor of the attacker in the last minute and were last buoyed by a Czech Penalty. The extra two men allowed Simcak to put in the 4-3 goal with five seconds left in regulation, but despite the excitement it gave the crowd, the goal was merely academic as the last 5 seconds ticked off the clock.

Slovakia will take on Finland in tomorrow's game in Minsk and the Czechs have the day off.

Latvia 0 Russia 9 (0-2, 0-4, 0-3)

Latvia VS. Russia Photos:

Russia stayed unbeaten, and virtually unchallenged, at this year's U18 World Championship with an easy 9-0 win over Latvia. Russia has two wins in two games, while the Latvians are win-less in their two outings.

Russia's first power-play was representative of the entire game. They scored just 25 seconds into their first extra man chance, facing little resistance. Nikita Nesterov scored the opening tally on the rebound. Less then 3 minutes later Vladislav Namestnikov doubled the lead with his 2nd goal of the championship. After taking another pair of late-period penalties, Latvia was lucky to escape with just a 2-0 deficit at the end of the stanza as Russia swarmed the offensive zone.

The Latvian luck ran out in the 2nd period as the Russians poured in 4 unanswered goals. Namestnikov put in another two goals and an assist in the flurry to complete the hat trick. His 3rd goal 5:51 into the period promoted Latvia to pull goaltender Vadims Miscuks in favor of Kristers Gudlevskis.

The Change did little to help the Latvian curse as Russia put in another three goals in the 3rd period, cruising to the shutout win. Evgeni Kunetsov scored twice in the 3rd period, and closed the game with a pair of goals and an assist. Andrei Vasilveski earned the shutout bragging rights in the net.

Both teams are idle tomorrow. Unbeaten Russia has a big game against Finland on Friday that could be the key to taking first place. Meanwhile, Latvia will also resume play on Friday against the Czech Republic-a win is critical for the Latvians if they want to avoid the relegation round.

Day 3 Schedule, 4/15

Group A

Belarus VS. Canada

Group B

Slovakia VS. Finland

Group Standings after Day 2

Group A

1. Sweden 2-0-0-0 6 PTS 11-2

2. U.S.A. 1-0-0-1 3 PTS 7-5

3. Switzerland 1-0-0-1 3 PTS 4-6

4. Canada 0-0-0-1 0 PTS 1-3

5. Belarus 0-0-0-1 0 PTS 0-7

Group B

1. Russia 2-0-0-0 6 PTS 13-1

2. Finland 1-0-0-0 3 PTS 7-2

3. Czech Rep. 1-0-0-1 3 PTS 5-7

4. Slovakia 0-0-0-1 0 PTS 3-4

5. Latvia 0-0-0-2 0 PTS 2-16

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