IIHF Worlds: Day 4 Round-Up
The Czechs struggled to make their mark against Russia (Photo: Andre Ringuette/HHOF-IIHF Images)

Russia 3-0 Czech Republic

Russia have taken the role of one of the main favorites of the tournament in their stride, beating Norway 5-2, and Austria 5-0. They will now face one of the other favorites in their group, Czech Republic.

Team Czech Republic have also had a perfect record so far, defeating their medal spots rivals Sweden 5-2 and Norway 7-2. The match between Russia and Czech Republic will be group-defining and could spur the winner on and take the losers mentally out of the running for the gold medal.

Russia dominated the first five minutes, having a couple of shots and getting physical early on. Czechs struggled to establish a presence in their offensive zone. The Czechs got some more action going. First, on a 3-on-2, Simon’s centering pass couldn’t find Voracek. Later, a beautiful solo entry by Jakub Vrana, dekeing around four Russian players, resulted in a shot into Vasilevskiy’s trapper.

Russia took a lead after 13 minutes. Puck dumped in by Nesterov, Telegin hits a Czech defender to keep off the puck. Khafizulin skates the puck closer into the goal, then passes to Sergei Andronov whose one-timer slap shot beats Patrik Bartosak.

Dominik Simon missed the Czechs’ biggest chance of the period in the final minute, putting a wrist shot over the crossbar from close range.

Kucherov and Gusev had a 2-on-1, Gusev’s shot saved by Bartosak, leading to the Czech crowd chanting his name. While they were still chanting, Gusev and Kucherov came again and this time Nikita Gusev scored, his shot trickling in after a pad save by Bartosak.

Czechs turned over the puck in their offensive zone shortly after Jan Kovar’s penalty expired and it was Kovar who got to go through on Vasilevskiy, but didn’t manage to score.

The Czechs came flying out of the traps in the third period, Voracek getting a chance from close range. They also drew a holding penalty out of Telegin in the first minute. Jakub Vrana got a prime chance to get one back for the Czech Republic, his slap shot one-timer hitting the pipe. Another huge chance for Czechs after five minutes have gone from the third period, Tomas Zohorna’s backhand shot hit the crossbar. Czech Republic got another chance, this time on the powerplay. Simon deflected a shot, but couldn’t get it over Vasilevskiy’s pads. The Czech Republic has been the more threatening team so far this period.

Czechs pulled their goalie during a 4-on-4 with two and a half minutes to go, then take a timeout with a minute and 19 seconds to go. Nikita Zaitsev dispossessed a Czech forward as he tried to enter the zone, shot the puck down the ice and scored the empty net goal to finish the match off 3-0 with 55 seconds to go.

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Norway 1-9 Sweden

Sweden went ahead in the first minute, courtesy of Alexander Wennberg, finding Haukeland’s five-hole after 39 seconds. They got their second after Patric Hornqvist deflected the wrist shot of his captain Oliver Ekman-Larsson. A third came for the Swedes. William Nylander skated towards the center after a face-off took a shot through a flurry of players, deflected by Patric Hornqvist in front of Haukeland, who never even saw the shot. The goal was reviewed for possible goaltender interference, but it stood.

Adrian Kempe got the fourth for Sweden in the second period. Kempe skated into the slot, and tucked his backhand shot underneath the crossbar. Oliver Ekman-Larsson’s wrist shot beats Haukeland cleanly into the top left corner for Sweden’s fifth, and for the second game in a row, Henrik Haukeland gets pulled and Henrik Holm comes in. This time, Haukeland lasted only 25 minutes.

Just like against Russia, Holm let in a goal early. This time he was skated around by Mario Kempe, who made it 6-0 for Sweden. Alexander Wennberg got his second of the game and the seventh for Sweden.

Sweden thought they scored the eighth goal on their 30th shot after 35 minutes, Mario Kempe pushed it through, but it was taken away for goaltender interference. 80 seconds before the end of the second period, Loui Eriksson actually made it 8-0 for Sweden in a beautiful team goal after some tic-tac-toe passing that opened a big part of the net for Eriksson, who did not disappoint.

Norway finally got their first after 51 minutes through Mathias Trettenes before Oskar Lindblom scored in the 58th minute to make the score 9-1.

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USA 3-2 Finland (OT)

Team USA had a mixed start to their tournament, losing their opener to the Slovak hosts 4-1 and then finding their smile with a 7-1 win over France.

Finland have had a dream start to the tournament, first upsetting Canada 3-1, and then defeating Slovakia 4-1. Kaapo Kakko scoring five goals over the opening two matches.

Team USA took a lead within the first minute through Brady Skjei, before Johnny Gaudreau made it 2-0 after ten minutes, with Jack Eichel assisting them both. However, Harri Pesonen got one for Finland just before the first period was over, in its final minute.

Similarly to Pesonen, Niko Ojamaki got a goal for Finland in the period’s final minute. After assists from Manninen and Kaski, Ojamaki’s powerplay goal tied the game up at 2-2.

Both teams held solid through the third period and this match between two of the Group A favorites went to overtime. After 3 minutes and 27 seconds, Dylan Larkin’s goal decided the match and got the two points for Team USA.

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Slovakia 5-6 Canada

Slovakia had a mixed start to the tournament, upsetting USA 4-1 and then falling to Finland 2-4. They came into this match hoping to get some points against a favorite to help their bid for a quarterfinal spot.

Canada started their tournament with a stumble in the form of a 3-1 loss against Finland but followed it up with a confidence-building 8-0 win over Great Britain.

Slovakia shocked the favorites with a two-goal lead, goals by Matus Sukel and Adam Liska in the eighth and ninth minute. However, goals from Anthony Mantha and Shea Theodore meant the first period ended tied at 2-2.

The Slovaks got another two-goal lead in the second period, thanks to the oldest player in the tournament, 39-year-old Ladislav Nagy, and Adam Liska, a fourth-liner who scored his second of the game. Canada came back again, goals from Jonathan Marchessault and Anthony Cirelli tying the match at 4-4 after 30 minutes. Slovakia thought they went ahead through a Tomas Tatar goal, but after video review, it was determined that there was goaltender interference on the play Richard Panik and the goal did not stand. Troy Stecher scored a fifth for Canada, giving his team the lead for the first time in the game, as well as forcing Slovakia to make a goaltender change. Marek Ciliak came in for Patrik Rybar after 36 minutes.

Matus Sukel tied the game up with 8:15 to go in the match, but after Erik Cernak took a tripping penalty, this crazy match would take one final mad turn. Mark Stone, who celebrated his 27th birthday during the match, scored to make it 6-5 in the final second of the game, getting himself the best birthday present possible.