Sunday, April 28, 2013

2013 IIHF U18 World Championships

The 2013 IIHF Under 18 World Championships conclude today in Sochi Russia. The tournament, being held at the venue which will host the 2014 Olympics, began back on April 18th with two groups of five teams each. In Group A, Russia went a perfect 4-0, trailed by Finland at 3-1. The defending champion United States failed to impress with a 2-2 record, losing their opening game to Russia 4-3 and later to Finland 2-1. Still, it was enough to advance to the playoffs along with the Czech Republic, who defeated the overmatched Latvians to avoid the Relegation Round.

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Over in Group B, Canada (4-0) cruised home in first over Sweden (3-1), while Switzerland (2-2) took the third spot ahead of Germany (1-3) while Slovakia went winless at 0-4.

The Relegation Round saw Slovakia maintain their place in the Top Division with a 5-2 win in Game 1 followed by a 3-2 win in Game 2. Latvia is therefore relegated to Division I Group A for 2014 and their place will be taken by Denmark next year.

In the playoffs, Finland took care of Switzerland 7-4 in the first game of the Quarterfinals, the United States advanced with a dominant 4-0 win over Sweden, Russia dispatched Germany 8-4 and Canada blitzed the Czech Republic 6-0.

In yesterday's Semifinals, Canada defeated Finland 3-1 to return to the gold medal game for the first time since 2008. The first period passed scoreless before Canada scored first at 3:53 of the second to take a lead they would never relinquish. They would extend their lead to 2-0 when they scored 11 seconds into a power play just a minute after their first goal. Finland kept it close with their only goal at 7:13 of the third period. The final was in doubt until the final minute when the Canadians sealed the victory with an empty net goal with 38 seconds remaining.

Finland vs Canada photo CanadasZachNastasiuk27withascoringchanceagainstFinlandsJuuseSaros31whileMikaIlvonen8andAtteMaakinen7lookon.jpeg
Zach Nastasiuk pressures Finland

The second semifinal between hosts Russia and the United States saw the Americans lead 1-0 after one following their power play goal at 16:09. Russia controlled the second period scoring with a pair of goals, the first on a power play, to lead 2-1 after two despite being outshot 28-19 to that point. The United States tied the game at 4:04 but with 3:19 remaining, the Russians regained the lead at 3-2.

It would take the US 1:15 to respond with the equalizer and regulation ended with the game deadlocked at 3-3. A spirited overtime saw both goalies stand their ground, turing away 12 combined shots and the United States even having to kill off a hooking penalty.

Russia vs USA photo USAsJohnHayden15withascoringchanceagainstRussiasIgorShestyorkin1whileAndreiAlexeyev8defends.jpeg
John Hayden looking to get one past the Russian defense

The game moved to a shootout and the United States prevailed with two goals to Russia's none, sending the Americans into today's gold medal game against Canada. The United States has won the last four gold medals and will be hoping to with their 8th overall since the formation of the U18 tournament in 1999. Canada has two titles, those coming in 2003 and 2008.

The Bronze medal game between Russia and Finland is up first at 8 AM eastern followed by the gold medal final between the United States and Canada at 12 noon eastern.

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