Thursday, January 5, 2012

USA finishes 7th at WJC with 2-1 win over Switzerland

Despite a 1-3 record during the Group Stage earlier in this year's World Junior Hockey Championships, the Americans were able to finish the Relegation Round with a perfect 3-0 with a 2-1 win over Switzerland to finish 7th in this year's tournament and look to improve when the WJC heads to Ufa, Russia next season. 2013 will be the 1st time the WJC Tournament will be in Russia since 2001 when the Tournament was in Moscow.

Among the team leaders for the USA during this tournament was a bit inflated due to the big numbers put up against Denmark on opening night & against Latvia during the Relegation Round yesterday afternoon. Campbell finishes the Tournament with a 2.62 GAA & a .906 SV% as well. For Team Scoring Leaders for the United States, the goal scoring was lead by Minnesota Wild Prospect & Current Boston University Forward Charlie Coyle with 4 goals, while Austin Watson was the overall scoring leader with 9 points in the 6 games (3G 6A).

While other notables included a bit of a disappointing tournament by Emerson Etem with 4 assists with no goals and a -1 Plus/Minus Rating.

The team will return to their clubs and are expected to play their 1st game back either late this weekend or early next week as the usual custom of most teams allowing their returning players having a game or two off to rest from the tournament run.

As for other games yesterday, Latvia survived relegation with a 2-1 win over Denmark thanks to some great performances to Nikita Jevpalovs, Kriss Lipsbergs & Zemgus Girgensons who is being looked at as a possible top 10 overall pick for June's Draft this summer.

Also the Czechs used a strong 1st period against arch rival Slovakia to win 5-2 and finish in 5th Place in what was one of the better tournament showings in a long time.  Don't be surprised to see Czech Goalie Petr Mrazek to be named the Tournament's Best Goalie, and possibly the Player of the Tournament for the way that he was able to stonewall their opponent's, including getting 50+ saves in a 5-2 upset over the United States back on December 30.

The Medal Round will have Russia VS. Sweden for the Gold Medal, while Canada VS. Finland for the Bronze Medal. For the Canadians, this is the 1st time since 2001 that they will not be playing for the Gold Medal, while the Finns are coming off a heart breaking loss where they were up 2-0 against Sweden going into the 3rd period, only to lose in a shutout.

From Calgary, Alberta: In the last game of the 2012 Relegation Round, the United States Edged Switzerland 2-1. The U.S. Finished 7th, while the Swiss will settle for 8th.

It is the worst finish for the underachieving Americans in the World Juniors since 1999, when they finished 8th. That was also the only other time they played in the Relegation Round. The U.S. Came in 7th in 1977, 1980 & 1990.

The Swiss also took a step backwards after coming fourth in 2010 and fifth in 2011. They were relegated in 2008 after a ninth place finish finish in the Czech Republic.

The teams exchanged goals rapidly in the 1st period. Austin Czarnik got the Americans on the board unassisted at 11:28, but just over three minutes later, Switzerland made it 1-1 with Gaetan Haas third goal of this tournament. Kevin Gravel promptly restored the U.S. Lead at 16:15.

And then the goalies ensured they would be no more scoring, even though the Americans peppered the Swiss Cage.

With less then 6 minutes to go in the 2nd, Swiss Net minder Tim Wolf lunged cross-crease to make a great Save on U.S. forward Brandon Saad and keep his team close.

Eight minutes into the third period, American Goalie Jack Campbell likewise stood his ground when Lino Martschini skated into the slot and let a zinger go from the hash marks.

The Swiss got a final chance at the equalizer when Bill Arnold was sent off for hooking with 26 seconds left. But even with Wolf pulled for the extra attacker, they was nothing doing.

The Americans out shot Switzerland 42-22 for the game.

Prior to the game, both teams had already secured their spots in the 2013 IIHF World Junior Championships in Ufa, Russia.

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