Saturday, December 29, 2012
Dasherboard: There were four games in the 2013 World Junior Championships yesterday, which began with an upset victory by the Czech Republic over Finland as the Czechs got two goals 2 1/2 minutes apart in the first period and made them hold up as Finland got one back early in the second, but could not find the equalizer, despite several power play opportunities for Finland.
Canada got an early scare from Slovakia, as the Slovaks led 2-0 after one period and 3-1 just over half way through the game, but Canada bore down and by the end of the middle period had the lead back at 4-3 and stretched their advantage to 6-3 within the first seven minutes of the third period to remain undefeated.
Switzerland broke out on top and gained a point in the standings by taking Sweden to a overtime, but a lone goal by Sweden in the shootout gave them a 3-2 win to claim the top spot in Group A.
In a cracking game, Russia and the United States battled furiously with a power play goal by Russia holding up for over a half hour until the Americans tied the game at the 13:18 mark of the second period. Russia went back on top with a goal four minutes into the third period, which they made stand up despite a late penalty for a hard-fought 2-1 win to take all three points in the Group B standings.
Sweden is now alone in first place in Group A with 5 points, ahead of plucky Switzerland at 4. The Czechs and Finns are tied at 3 each and can ill afford another loss if they plan on advancing to the Playoff Round. Latvia trails the pack with zero points after two games played and a trip to the Relegation Round in their future.
Group B is led by Canada, the only team with a perfect 6 points after two games. Russia's win gives them 5 and puts them on track to advance to the next round. The United States have 3 points and Slovakia 1, but an easier schedule in their remaining two games. Germany is winless and will want to try to take as many points out of their game with Slovakia in an effort to avoid relegation if the Slovaks are the ones to join them in the Relegation Round.
Today sees two games on the docket, neither of which look to be very competitive. Latvia takes on Sweden, which should go the way of the Swedes, and Germany faces Russia, who will be on a high following their win over the United States.
Additionally, with goal differential being one of the tie-breakers in the standings, and the Canadians having defeated the Germans by 6 and the Americans winning by 8, Russia will be motivated to pour it on in an effort to surpass their rivals, which could make for a long day for Germany, an unfortunate feature of the IIHF rule book.